Medieval History: Pola of Rome, A Medieval Jewish Female Scribe

November 19, 2018 | Filed Under History | No Comments

Something I hadn’t considered before: whereas the Christians had a system of monasteries to copy their holy texts, the Jews did not have the luxury of permanent establishments, particularly in the middle ages. Finding this article by Cait Stevenson on Pola of Rome, a medieval female Jewish scribe, was one of the best parts of my Sunday.

Pola describes herself in the colophons of the three manuscripts of hers that are known as the “daughter of R. Abraham the scribe.” She was active in the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries. Based on the colophons and dedications in the manuscripts, she was married at least once, and had a son named Solomon. That a woman could have a career as a scribe and still fulfill her societal roles of wife and mother is no small thing, and helps to dispel the commonly-held notion that women were excluded from professional careers and artistic expression during this time.

I encourage you to click through and read the entire article; it’s a fascinating look at a particular aspect of medieval life that isn’t generally included in the history books.

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