"They did not suspect her for a moment. It did not occur to them that a woman could be dangerous. How foolish they were. Women could do most of the things men did. Who was left in charge when the men were fighting wars, or going on crusades? There were women carpenters, dyers, tanners, bakers and brewers. Aliena herself was one of the most important merchants in the county. The duties of an abbess, running a nunnery, were exactly the same as those of an abbot. Why, it had been a woman, the Empress Maud, who caused the civil war that had gone on for fifteen years! Yet these wooden-headed men-at-arms did not expect a woman to be an enemy agent because it was not the normal thing."

The Pillars of the Earth

Ken Follett