It's not easy to travel to Europe and see much in the way of women's history that doesn't involve nuns, torture, queens or housework. The New York Times did manage to find something — in Belgium. As explained in yesterday's Travel section, both during and after the crusades, women banded together under the auspices of the Catholic Church and founded béguinages, which offered them the chance to live independently with one another without committing to being nuns. There's more on this "oldest women's movement" here. [NY Times]