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The Role of Women During Medieval Times
Transcript of The Role of Women During Medieval Times
What did women do during this chaotic time?
Did they fight for their land along with their husbands?
Or did they stay at home?
Medieval times were not a comfortable place for most women. Medieval women invariably had a hard time in an era when many men lived harsh lives
A few women lived comfortable lives but Medieval society was completely dominated by men and women had to know 'their place' in such a society.
Women in medieval society didn’t have much of a role they were just there to support their husband, they also had the responsibility to look after their family (if she had any children) as well as doing her daily chores.
Within a village, women would have done many of the tasks men did on the land. However, they were paid less for doing the same job. For reaping, a man could get 8 pence a day. For the same task, women would get 5 pence. For hay making, men would earn 6 pence a day while women got 4 pence. In a male dominated society, no woman would openly complain about this disparity.
Many women would be grateful to work as a servant for the rich although even for a women to have this job was still demanding and poorly rewarded.
Women were also not allowed to make their own choices they had laws set by men such as they weren’t allowed to marry a man without their parents consent, could not own their own business, they weren’t allowed to divorce their husbands, they weren’t allowed to own their own property unless they were widows and they were not allowed to inherit land from their parents if they had any surviving brothers. Women of medieval times were dominated by men. Any man in the family could order a woman to do as he wished. If a woman refused, she was beat into submission, as disobedience was considered a crime against God.
There was also a big difference between the women with rich families and women with poor families. Women with rich families would get married as teenagers, as for the children with poor families would have worked from the earliest age possible and were treated as adults at the age of ten or eleven and didn’t get married until they were in their twenties.
Girls had no choice over whom they married. Although there was one thing for sure, a woman from rich families were usually married to someone as a political gesture or because it was an advantage to the girl's family itself - as opposed to what the girl herself wanted. Once married, the young lady came under the control of her husband. For a rich family it was basically considered vital for the girl to marry a man of success.
While the woman is married she spends most of her marriage life pregnant, even though childbirth was very dangerous because of the poor medical care. It is thought that 20% of all women died giving birth and was the most common death among young women.
Most of the time the women that came from a rich family didn’t take care of their children, a wet nurse did this job. But on the other hand women from poor families had to take care of their own children on top of their daily chores both in her house and on the land. It was believed that women from poor families did not live past the age of forty.
There were many important women during medieval times such as Joan of Arc, Hildegard of Bingen, Anna Comnena, Julian of Norwich, Christine de Pizan, Jane Shore, Alice Perrers, Matilda of Flanders, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Queen Berengaria of Navarre, Isabella of France, Philippa of Hainault, Mary de Bohun, Catherine of Valois and Margaret of Anjou.
Even though it was a hard time in the world I would say that women were luckier than men, they would stay at home and work as for the men had to go into the open and fight, kill and destroy land. It was also easier for a man to be accused of doing something wrong rather than women, which meant that the men had to suffer more of the consequences most often. The only way for a women to have to suffer consequences is if she didn’t obey the rules that men had set during the medieval times and if she had been accused for being a witch or stealing.
Although women had practically no rights during this time, that was not always the case. Women had to obey men, but were often treated well if they listened and obeyed the rules of the men. As mentioned before women that came from rich families lived luxuriously and when chivalry was introduced, they were more respected by men. A woman in medieval times was based on her social ranks.