Dr Elizabeth L'Estrange

Photograph of Dr Elizabeth L'Estrange

Department of Art History, Curating and Visual Studies
Lecturer in History of Art

Contact details

Arts Building
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

My work focuses on the art and culture of the late medieval and early modern period, especially illuminated manuscripts, French and Burgundian court art, text-image relations, and women as subjects and consumers of visual cultures.


BA MA PhD (University of Leeds)


I have a BA in English Language and Literature, an MA in Medieval Studies, and a PhD in History of Art from the University of Leeds. Before joining the History of Art Department in 2011, I was based at the University of Liège in Belgium, where I held post-doctoral fellowships from the Leverhulme Trust (2004-2006) and the Fonds national de recherche scientifique (2007-2010). I also spent three months in Rome as a recipient of a research grant from the Fondation Darchis (2011).


I teach across the Art History curriculum at Birmingham, including the first year course Ideas of the Renaissance, a second year module Power, Society, Politics: Religious Art in Northern Europe, c. 1400-1600, and two third year special subject modules, Women and Artistic Culture in the Late Medieval and Early Modern Periods, and Turning the Pages: Manuscript and Print, Past and Present. I also contribute to the MA in Medieval Studies and supervise dissertations at BA, MA, and PhD level in History of Art and Medieval Studies.

I have previously taught Research Techniques for History of Art and co-led the second year Study Trip to Rome.

Postgraduate supervision

I welcome enquiries from prospective postgraduate students wishing to research areas that overlap with my research and teaching interests.


My research focuses mainly on the art and culture of the medieval and early modern periods (c. 1350-1600) with a particular emphasis on illuminated manuscripts and on questions of gender in visual culture. In 2008 I published Holy Motherhood: Gender, Dynasty and Visual Culture in the Late Middle Ages (MUP, 2008) which won the Society for Medieval Feminist Scholarship’s First Book Prize in 2010. This study of maternal imagery in books of hours owned by aristocratic women and its relationship to the material culture of childbearing has led to other articles on the patronage of women at the French court, including Anne of Brittany, Anne of France, and Anne de Graville. In Holy Motherhood and in other articles on deschi da parto (birth trays) and carved ivory objects, I have also focused on methodological approaches to assessing women’s agency as viewers.

I am currently working on a book-length study of Anne de Graville (c. 1490-1540), lady-in-waiting to Queen Claude of France, who amassed an impressive personal library and who rewrote two popular texts (Boccaccio’s Teseida and Alain Chartier’s Belle dame sans mercy) for the queen. This project involves reconstructing Anne’s library to assess the kinds of books she was reading and commissioning as well as analysing how her own works engaged with, and contributed to, literary debate at the French court, notably the querelle des femmes. This research also involves analysing the way Anne presented herself, or was represented by others, in her manuscripts, through motifs, mottos, portraits and riddles. I recently published an article on the text and images in the Beau roman (2015), Anne’s rewriting of the Teseida, and on her copy of the pseudo-Berosus Chaldean Histories, a unique manuscript commissioned for Anne by her husband, Pierre de Balsac. I am also working on an unknown book of hours from the mid sixteenth century housed in the University of Liège. This high quality of these miniatures suggest that it is closely linked to the Bellemare workshop of illuminators.

For both these research projects, I have been awarded Undergraduate Research Scholarships from the College of Arts and Law. These have enabled UG students to work with me for five weeks over the summer, investigating lines of enquiry, compiling bibliographies, and working with manuscripts themselves.

I am also interested in broader questions of gender and sexuality in the medieval and early modern periods, and have co-edited two collections of essays Re-Presenting Medieval Genders and Sexualities: Construction, Transformation (Ashgate, 2011) with Alison More, and Le mécénat féminin en France et en Bourgogne, XIVe-XVIe (a special issue of Le Moyen Age journal, 2011) with Laure Fagnart. In 2015 I co-organised an international conference on Mary of Burgundy which took place in Birmingham’s Brussels Office and in the Groeningen Museum in Bruges. The proceedings of this conference will be published in the coming year. The programme is available at https://maryofburgundy2015.wordpress.com/.

Other activities

At Birmingham, I am Undergraduate Admissions Tutor and, from September 2016, Director of Undergraduate Studies. I am also responsible for our website and our Facebook page and, with our postgraduates, helped to found our highly successful blog, The Golovine (www.thegolovine.wordpress.com).

I am a member of the advisory board of Renaissance Studies and have previously been an editorial assistant for the Cahiers de recherches médiévales et humanistes. In addition, I regularly review books for journals, including Art History, Medieval Feminist Forum, Material Religion, Oxford Art Journal, and Bulletin du bibliophile and have also peer-review books for Manchester University Press and Ashgate Publishing.

At Birmingham, I am involved on the steering committee of the Centre for the Study of the Middle Ages and am a member of the Birmingham Centre for Translation; beyond Birmingham, I am a member of Transitions: Centre d’Etudes du moyen âge et de la première modernité (www.transitions.ulg.ac.be) and Femmes, Enseignement, Recherche, ULG (www.ferulg.ulg.ac.be) both at the University of Liège and the Group for Early Modern Cultural Analysis at the University of Louvain-la-Neuve (http://gemca.fltr.ucl.ac.be).



Holy Motherhood: Gender, Dynasty, and Visual Culture in the Later Middle Ages (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2008; reprinted 2013)

Edited collections

Co-editor, with Jonathan Dumont, Samuel Mareel, and Michael Depreter, Mary of Burgundy: The Reign, the ‘Persona’, and the Legacy of a European Princess. Proceedings of the International Conference, 4-6 March 2015 (Brepols, forthcoming)

Co-editor, with Laure Fagnart, Le mécénat féminin en France et en Bourgogne, XIV-XVIe, special issue of the peer‐reviewed journal Le Moyen Âge, 117 (2011)

Co-editor, with Alison More, Representing European Genders and Sexualities, 600–1530: Construction, Transformation, and Subversion (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2011); also available as an e-book

Journal articles and book chapters

‘“Un étrange moyen de seduction”: Anne de Graville’s Chaldean Histories and her role in literary culture at the French Court in the early sixteenth century’, Renaissance Studies, forthcoming (DOI: 10.1111/rest12170)

‘« Translaté de vieil langaige et prose en nouveau et rime »: la Théséide de Boccace et Le Beau roman d’Anne de Graville’, in Boccace et la France, ed. by Philippe Guérin and Anne Robin (forthcoming with Franco Cesati)

‘Re-presenting the Teseida for a Queen: Anne de Graville’s Beau roman for Claude of France (Arsenal MS 5116)’, in Text-Image Relations in Late Medieval French Culture, ed. by Rosalind Brown-Grant and Rebecca Dixon (Turnhout: Brepols, 2015), pp. 187-207

‘Beyond the 1520s: A Bellemare Group Manuscript in Liège (MS Wittert 29)?’, in Re-inventing  Traditions: On the Transmission of Artistic Patterns in Late Medieval Manuscript Illumination, ed. Joris Corin Heyder and Christine Seidel (Civilizations and History, 34; Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 2015), 195-216.

Co-author, with Rachel Dressler, Marian Bleeke, Jennifer Borland and Martha Easton, ‘Artistic Representations’, in A Cultural History of Women in the Middle Ages, ed. by K. M. Phillips (London: Berg, 2012), pp. 179-271

‘Topsy-Turvy Gender Relations in Fifteenth‐Century Italian Households’, in Representing European Genders and Sexualities, 600–1530: Construction, Transformation, and Subversion, ed. by A. More and E. L’Estrange (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2011), p. 128-44

‘“Quant femme enfante…”: remèdes et charmes pour l’accouchement au Moyen Âge’, in Femmes en Fleurs: Santé, Sexualité et Génération du Moyen Âge aux Lumières, ed. by C. McClive and N. Pellegrin (St‐Étienne: Presse Universitaire de St‐Étienne, 2010), pp. 167‐83

‘Penitence, Motherhood and Passion Devotion: Contextualising Anne of Brittany’s Prayer Book, Chicago, Newberry Library, MS 83’, in The Cultural and Political Legacy of Anne de Bretagne: Negotiating Convention in Books & Documents, ed. by C. Brown (Cambridge: Boydell and Brewer, 2010), pp. 81‐98

‘Gazing at Gawain: Reconsidering Tournaments, Courtly Love, and the Lady Who Looks’, Medieval Feminist Forum, 42 (2009), 74‐96

‘Images de maternité sainte dans deux livres appartenant aux duchesses de Bretagne’, in Livres et lectures des femmes: Entre moyen âge et renaissance, ed. by A.‐M. Legaré (Turnhout: Brepols, 2007), pp. 35‐47

‘Sainte Anne et le mécénat d’Anne de France’, in Patronnes et mécènes en France à la Renaissance, ed. by K. Wilson‐Chevalier (St‐Étienne: Presse Universitaire de St‐Étienne, 2007), pp. 135‐54

‘Le mécénat d’Anne de Bretagne’, in Patronnes et mécènes en France à la Renaissance, ed. by K. Wilson‐Chevalier (St‐Étienne: Presse Universitaire de St‐Étienne, 2007), pp. 169‐94

‘Anna peperit Mariam, Elizabeth Johannem, Maria Christum: Images of Childbirth in Late‐Medieval Manuscripts’, in Manuscripts in Transition: Recycling Manuscripts, Texts and Images, ed. by B. Dekeyzer and J. Van der Stock (Leuven: Peeters, 2005), pp. 335‐46