Changing Women's Roles as a Result of the Black Plague Essay

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When Eve took that bite of the Forbidden Fruit, she had no idea what she had gotten women-kind into. Whether or not you believe in the story of creation, the perception of women as corrupting and sinful had shaped women's social roles in Western Society for thousands of years. Augustine was one of the first to write about the wickedness of women, and the acceptance of this doctrine is evident in the Letters of Abelard and Heloise through their disdain toward marriage. Along with mass death of the Black Plague, came an opportunity for women to change the ways in which society viewed them. The great number of deaths in Europe often resulted in the situation where no male heirs remained which led to the legal ability of women to inherit …show more content…

Households were strictly patriarchal in which the man of the house made all the important decisions. Women's jobs at the time were mostly relegated to domestic service and occasional work at harvest time. The jobs were always of low pay, low status, and required little training. In addition to this females were not legally permitted to inherit land or property. This was the bleak life of a woman, with little hope or power, and always the subordinate of men.

Along with the sweeping death that came with the Black Plague came subtle changes in the lives of women in Western Europe. With so many left dead, the demand for workers skyrocketed after the plague. This caused the wages of workers to increase drastically and drew many women into the labor force. Another side effect of the plague was that there were less people to purchase goods and services which, according to the law of supply and demand, led to cheaper prices. For instance a tenement in Sussex, England previously rented for 12 pence was rented out for 6 pence. When you combine the wealth gained by higher wages and cheaper goods with the new legal concept of women being able to inherit property in the absence of a male heir, women were becoming more and more wealthy. This wealth brought women the new power of choice when it came to marriage that they had not had before the Black Death.

During this time in history, if a man married a woman that had inherited large plots of land, the land

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