Participant Info

First Name
Last Name
John Jay College CUNY Graduate Center
Website URL
medieval, legal, France, gender, women, crime, religion, Europe, canon law, marriage, sexuality, Christianity
Additional Contact Information

Personal Info

About Me

Sara McDougall is Associate Professor of History at John Jay College of Criminal Justice of the City University of New York, and a member of the doctoral faculty of the Graduate Center in French, History, and Medieval Studies. She will be the Norman Freehling Visiting Professor at the University of Michigan Institute for the Humanities in winter of 2020. Other recent fellowships include the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton and NYU Law School’s Golieb Legal History fellowship. She completed her doctorate in medieval history at Yale University in May 2009.

Her research focuses on the role of Christian legal and theological ideas in the cultural world of women and families in Medieval Western Europe. She has published two books, Bigamy and Christian Identity in Late-Medieval Champagne (U. Pennsylvania Press, 2012), and Royal Bastards: The Birth of Illegitimacy, c.800-1230 (Oxford, 2017). Recent articles examine infanticide, illegitimacy and the priesthood, adultery, and spousal homicide in medieval France, as well as other writings on the family, and marriage and gender in medieval canon law. She is currently co-editing a forum for Law and History Review on the history of infanticide in pre-modern Europe and the Americas, and has co-directed a number of editorial projects including a special issue of Gender & History: Marriage’s Global Past, and a six-volume Global History of Crime and Punishment forthcoming with Bloomsbury Press.

Her current research focuses on women pregnant out of wedlock in medieval France.

Recent Publications

Royal Bastards: the birth of illegitimacy, 800-1230 (Oxford University Press, Oxford Studies in Medieval European History, January 2017).

Bigamy and Christian Identity in Late-Medieval Champagne (University of Pennsylvania Press, March 2012). 

Editorial Projects:

with Sarah Pearsall, Gender & History Special Issue: Marriage’s Global Past (November 2017).

with Thomas Barton, Susan McDonough, and Matthew Wranovix, Boundaries in the Medieval and Wider World. Festschrift in Honour of Paul Freedman, Europa Sacra 22 (Brepols, 2017).  

with John Witte and Anna di Robilant, Texts and Contexts in Legal History: Essays in Honor of Charles Donahue, Robbins Collection, UC Berkeley (October 2016).

Journal Articles and Book Chapters:

“Bastard Priests: Illegitimacy and Ordination in Medieval Europe,” Speculum: A Journal of Medieval Studies 94/1 (January 2019).

with Sarah Pearsall, “Marriage’s Global Past: Introduction,” in Gender & History Special Issue: Marriage’s Global Past (November 2017).

“The Monk-King and the Abbess-Countess: Dynastic Lineage in Twelfth Century Aragon and Boulogne” in Boundaries in the Medieval and Wider World. Festschrift in Honour of Paul Freedman, Europa Sacra 22 (Brepols, 2017).  

with Charles Donahue, Jr. “France and Adjoining Areas,” in History of Courts and Procedure in Medieval Canon Law eds. Kenneth Pennington and Wilfried Hartmann (Catholic University Press, November 2016).

“Enclosure as Punishment for Adultery,” in Proceedings of the Fourteenth International Congress of Medieval Canon Law, Toronto 3-9 August 2012, eds. Joseph Goering, Stephan Dusil, and Andreas Thier, Monumenta Iuris Canonici, Series C: Subsidia (Vatican City: Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, 2016).

“À la recherche des enfants illégitimes dans les archives de l’officialité de Troyes au xve siècle. Un exemple atypique?” in Bâtards et bâtardises dans l’Europe médiévale et moderne, ed. Carole Avignon (Presses universitaires de Rennes, 2016).

“Fiction and Lies: Adultery and Spousal Homicide Accusations in Fifteenth Century France” in Imagining Early Modern Histories, eds. Allison Kavey and Elizabeth Ketner (Ashgate, 2016).

“The Transformation of Adultery in France at the End of the Middle Ages,” Law and History Review 32:3 (August 2014).


Media Coverage
Country Focus
Expertise by Geography
France, Western Europe
Expertise by Chronology
Expertise by Topic
Children & Youth, Family, Law, Religion, Sexuality, Women