Women withstood a multitude of limitations in the medieval era. Due to the political, social, and religious restrictions women encountered, historians neglected to realize that they demonstrated agency. The female experience is something that has been overlooked until recently. Unfortunately, without the knowledge of how women found ways to exert
Women were always excluded from decisions, public decisions, especially in politics and the choosing of leaders. When people did not have the right to vote, and kings were chosen by divine right, women in the nobility
The women in medieval times had not much power over their life and decisions affecting them. Men had all the power and women where tossed aside as only being there for marriage, babies and housework. They were encouraged to stay inside, unless their work compelled them to do otherwise. Were they valued in society? Or were they just there to do as they are told and clean?
Compared to men, women had limited agency and mobility in many parts of the medieval and early modern period. Moreover, there is evidence that women faced obstacles when they tried to enact their agency. Nevertheless, there are many examples where women were able to affect societal structures and navigate around
provided for her and all women of this time period. They are not let to be free and express
A woman’s worth was determined by her virtue, her dowry, her marriage, and her children. A woman could lose all of those things and she would be consider worthless (Bitel, 2002 p.86). Women during the Middle Ages depended on men for just about everything. They depended on men for protection, security and power. Whereas the men also depended on women for children mainly sons for heirs but also daughters to form alliances threw marriage (Bitel). The history of women during the Middle Ages does not have a lot of documents to tell about the lives of ordinary women and how they lived. The documents that historians do have tell stories of queens, saints, and women that went against the norm. Although Bitel did not have a lot of documents to go to for information she paints a picture of Medieval Europe and the middle ages for women (Bitel,
In the late sixteenth century, men held power, not only over women, but also over their children, servants and/or apprentices they had. In extreme cases, women were sometimes viewed as objects; and in this inferiority women needed to strive for four virtues: obedience, chastity, silence, and piety (Traub, 129-30). Without such virtues women were subjected to the torture of social solitude and ridicule as well as assuring a man's dominance. Women were defined in society primarily by their economic status but what closely followed was one of the virtues they strove to obey, chastity. Being virginal, if unmarried, and faithfulness to her husband, if married, marked how they were viewed by others. If they were not chaste, the entire population may as well know of such and that would bring immense shame upon her family, and any associated with her. Ophelia is a girl caught within a society, backwards it may seem, but appropriate for the century in which Hamlet was written.
Amitabh Bachchan once said, “Because you are women, people will force their thinking on you, their boundaries on you. They will tell you how to dress, how to behave, who you can meet and where you can go…”. This quote was all too true for the women in the Medieval Era. In this era, women did not have a lot of power or control over their life. Women did not get to select who they marry. They could not choose who they bore children too. Women did not get to decide what kind of work they wanted. They had to know their place and their place was a child bearer, house maid, or nun. Although there was an idealization of women in the Medieval Era, the lives of women were arduous as they had little control of their lives and were not able to decide who they spent their life with.
The concept of a male dominated patriarchal society is not a recent composition. As far back as the middle ages, literature is strongly sentimental towards a male dominant society in which the woman plays the part of a peacekeeper or a beautiful object of desire, a respectful and obedient observer that is entirely confined – her role prescribed. Popular texts such as "Macbeth”, “Beowulf”, “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” and “The Book of Margery Kempe” show support for this prescribed anti-feminism. Women who obey and strictly follow the roles of wives, mothers, and “peace weavers” generally appear as confined. While such a word may conjure images of forceful restriction; the confined woman of Middle Ages literature appears happy, gracious and thankful to live in such a role. “Beowulf” and “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” offer readers two distinctive stereotypes of women, those who are or are not confined to their role in society. By presenting extremely different illustrations of each idea a paradigm is set that a good woman is one who is confined while a bad woman is not as they can to act according to her own will, which is an apparently dangerous in the eyes of the Middle Ages. “Macbeth” and “The Book of Margery Kempe” expand beyond such blatant antifeminism, exploring the abilities of how one can take advantage of a patriarchal society, exploiting it for their own needs if need be. Through the lens of feminism, these texts also serve to show the depth of characters
Why were medieval women looked at with disdain, and why was their freedom restrained? This is a question perplexing many historians. What is known of Medieval women of the Middle Ages is very nebulous and self-contradictory. The traditional view for a long period of time was that women were very much reliant on men and rather helpless without the male-dominated political, clerical, and economic aspects of society. Women also seemed to be seductive creatures that did not have self-control, unlike men. However, these ideas proved to be biased, since most of the records kept at the time were written by men; therefore, not many women were able to share their point of view, since many of them were uneducated or did not have the opportunity to share their beliefs, especially because of the male-dominant society. As a result, society at this time, especially in Europe, was a misogynistic, anti-feminist community. During the middle ages, many works were written by men that evidently portrayed their anti-feminist perspectives; additionally, women in this society possessed virtually no independence and consequently were at the mercy of their husbands or male counterparts, as depicted in medieval works such as Sir Gawain and the Great Knight, “The Story of Sheikh Sam’an,” and The Canterbury Tales.
Desire of the Fourteenth Century Women Is not what we desire, the most hard to get? It has always been this way. Unfortunately, women’s rights and abilities have been underestimated over the centuries. In the fourteenth century, the status and condition of a European woman depended on her husband’s position. Women had to endure arranged marriages, abuse and male dominance. During that time, Geoffrey Chaucer wrote The Canterbury Tales and taught us about one extraordinary woman whose name is Dame Alisoun. Alisoun is called The Wife of Bath, and she defines what women desired most in fourteenth-century England. She believes that women wish for power over their husbands, and I personally agree with her opinion.
Women in Shakespeare’s Elizabethan period lived in chains bound by the society with the leash handed first to their father and after marriage to their husbands. The higher the position in society tighter the restrictions. Women were escorted everywhere they went like Desdemona. “Good women followed the instructions of their husband and father’s.” Men did not have to explain themselves and their actions to their possessions.One of the examples of women 's role is given by Shakespeare In act 3 of Othello,when Iago’s wife Emilia says, “I know nothing but to please his fantasy”(3.3.299).
Many women in the Middle ages are not seen as warriors, this title was given to the men. Even though, many women during this time; despite the gender difference, “were included in the ranks of many mercenary and national armies” . These women were fearless fighters and defended their homesteads and country if warranted. Women who took on the role as warriors, were seen in a total different light as “natural women”, they were expected to “abandon their true identities and take on a more ruthless, and masculine role” . In fact, many women began to dress like men in order to fight alongside them in battle. As the times began to change, so did the ways of thinking. As more women began to join the battlefields, “the more they
While men of the Renaissance could break free from the restrain that the church held on their ideologies, women were not so fortunate. The classical and medieval ecclesiastical opinion of women was that women were “a temple built over a sewer” as well as “the gateway to the devil” (Marquis
point of view and thoughts would represent the average women of similar status during her time