I have been asked to write an essay on the subject of the role of women in the middle ages. In this essay I am attempting to out line the opinion that how hard life for women was. There were some ways that women could gain both personal and legal freedom but this was very difficult. Women could not even say or do what they wanted without permission from men.
What kinds of work did medieval women have to do?
Different classes of women would have done different jobs. The poor women would have worked because their husbands would not have been able to support them and their many children on his wages alone. She would have had so many children due to the high death rate because there was no cure for disease and there was no contraception. She would have taken any jobs she could find, for example gathering hay in a field and they worked with no shoes on their feet. – Source 0. Women would have helped her husband ploughing and even he would have been working for a farmer. She took her baby with her in the freezing cold. – Source 9. If she had of been a widow she may have taken over her dead husband’s job. This may have been a blacksmith, to do this job she would have had to be very strong. – Source 5. A stonemason would have also had to be very strong –Source 13.
Women who had no money could become a nun; this would mean she had rights, as they remain celibate, because as soon as they marry their land and property becomes her husbands and at his disposal. – Source 3. This would provide protection as they grow their own food and have a secure home. They would have a chance to live a religious life and it gave them the chance of a career. There were also many famous nuns and abbesses. – Source 18
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A midwife was another occupation for a woman as no males were admitted to the ward when a woman was giving birth. Some of these midwives often doctors in their own right and had many patients. Male doctors often harassed them and even accused them of witch craft –Source 7
The middle class may have worked as teachers this shows they were well educated and would have been able to afford their education. -Source 4. The way they were educated shows in another way as well: Eleanor, Countess of Leicester, kept accounts for the king before, Simon, her husband rebelled. This shows that they were educated in this way as well. – Source 16
Middle Class women would also have helped run a shop with their husband, we know she is middle class because they would not have been able to afford a shop if they had of been poor, also if the shop sold precious stones or an expensive material this would have contributed to their wealth.
Noble women would not have had to work, as their income was not needed. They went on crusades and traveled a lot, a good example of this was Eleanor of Aqutaine who married Henry the II after she divorced king Louis of France. –Source 1
Was Life The Same For All Women?
There was a very big difference between the rich and middleclass of women: for a start the rich did not have to work bas the poor and middle class did.
Another difference was their clothes: The queen, being as people respected and looked up to her, could wear whatever she wanted however expensive it may have been. She would also have worn make-up and Eleanor of Aquitaine, when she was travelling criticised the Byzantine emperor for having no fashion sense and for wearing no make-up. The middle class of women would have tried to copy the styles set by the queen although their clothes would not have been as extravagant. The real difference only came though when we look at the middle class, as they would probably would have worn whatever they could have got their hands on. They also would have worn no shoes. –Source 1. The very poor women would have worn just a sheet to protect them from the cold they also walked bare foot on the ice so the blood flowed. –Source 9
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Their independence was also very different being as the lower class depended on their husbands for almost everything and if her husband died and left her with many children she would have been left penniless. Whereas if a noble women’s husband died she would inherit all his money and the rich had less power over their wives because of this. Eleanor again is a good example of this as she tried to make each one of her four sons rebel against her, one by one.
Some women were very confident: Eleanor of Aquitaine rode into battle on one occasion. –Source 1. A lady named Black Agnes (named after her black skin) defended her castle against lord Salisbury for five months while her husband away in battle. –Source 19 As well as being confidant and brave though women were also imprisoned unfairly on men account.
As the rich did not have to work they would have had ladies in waiting. – Source 16. We can see by this that the rich did lead a life of luxury, as the poor would have had to work and look after many children due to the high death rate. – Source 10. Lots of women were housewives to, would have needed to have swept the house and looked after the children. –Source13
Noble women may have watched torments every lady had her favorite knight and the knights tried to impress the ladies by writing poems and songs for them, normally no relationships came out of this. This age was called the age of chivalry.
How Did Medieval Women Live
For the poor, life would have been pretty awful Because they would have had to work and look after children and if husband died they would have maybe taken over his job and then she would have had a membership in their guild (women were not allowed membership in their own right).
Women were not allowed entrance to a university no matter how clever or intelligent they were. – Source 21.
Some women would have been badly beaten, as there was no law to protect against it in those days, this shows how men thought of women as toys instead of people. – Source 14.
... or money coming out your ears.Most women love a man who loves them and knows how to ... anything. LOL Men and women think, feel and act differently. Have you read, "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From ... sarcastically. I want you men to know that most of us women can be reached, mentally and ... lives forever! So why not take advantage of it. Did you ever look around and wonder why a woman will chose another man ...
In the Middle Ages women were considered to be without souls, like animals. In a society, which was so religion-based, it is not difficult to imagine what affect this had on the status of women. They were considered to like possessions, like cows and sheep. The Church also blamed them for taking the apple that the serpent offered to Eve and therefore women were responsible for Adam being thrown out of Paradise – the Garden of Eden. Medically, women were thought to possess very little intelligence and to be incapable of rational or logical thought and to be influenced by the moon, among other things. – My own knowledge.
The only way for a woman would be able to divorce there husband was if they had bad breath, if they had an incurable illness or they could not leave normal married life. If a woman had an affair she would have had to of given her husband three cow and if it happened was entitled to leave her. If this did happen a woman would not have been given anything that was hers before she married and would nave been left penniless, as all her property would have become the property of her husbands as soon as she married. – Source 20 and source 3
What Skills Did Medieval Women Have?
The middle class and upper class could read and write because they had the money to be able to afford education, they could read, write and calculate better than men. –Source 16 and source 4.
Lots of women were very responsible and had extremely good judgment. People often came to them for advice. An abbess of the monastery of Whitby spent a lot of time studying the Holy Scripture and trained monk as well and these often became bishops afterwards. Source 2.
Midwives often became skilled doctors and acquired many patients. Men obviously did not like this as the women were taking away some of their precious business- Source 7. Women also new a lot about disease and illness. -Source 21
Women were skilled blacksmiths or stonemasons these skills were probably picked up from their husbands or they picked up from themselves. –Source 13 and source 5
I have concluded that life was extremely hard for women as they were completely controlled by men and were treated like dirt or as pets most of the time, and they had virtually no way of escaping this.