• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month


Extracts from this document...


HISTORY: MEDIEVAL WOMEN What is known of women and their roles in society throughout the Middle Ages is vague and self-contradictory. Women then were looked upon as being very much controlled by men. However in more recent times historians have argued that medieval women seemed to have much more freedom in their lives than what was previously believed. Women were largely ignored in many aspects of the records kept of that time and, until more recently, were overlooked in the majority of history books. The reasons for this are most likely the fact that during medieval times it was the men who would keep the records and, until fairly recently, write the history books - which has more often than not paid attention to the upper ranks of society, who were also usually male. Another feature of medieval times was that society of that time was largely controlled by the Church. This produced a rather misogynistic view in general as according to Christianity, women were immoral and sinful due to Eve causing Adam to sin. Further investigation into the roles of women and the part they played in the society of the Middle Ages has tended to give a more balanced idea of how they lived compared to the traditional view of life for women in medieval times. This essay will be discussing and comparing the two sides of the picture regarding the views of medieval women and their circumstances with reference to their roles, rights and general attitudes towards them. ...read more.


dead to the world and could not inherit property or money; senior positions were closed to women - with the exception of becoming Queen. Even within a village where woman would do much of the same tasks men did on the land, albeit on top of her domestic duties, women were paid much less (if at all) than their male counterparts for doing the same jobs. Even though documents regarding the common person from medieval society are rare, some do exist concerning how villages of these times operated, "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 women would openly complain about this disparity" (www.historylearningsite.co.uk). This shows how the laws concerning pay discriminated against medieval women as much as the more conventional laws regarding marriage and inheritance. However, this traditionalist view certainly paints a rather bleak picture of life for women in the Middle Ages, whereas in more recent times historians have looked more deeply into the lives of medieval women and given a revisionist idea of women's roles in these times. These studies have shown women had a greater amount of freedom than had been originally portrayed. Through further examination there has been plenty of evidence to support the fact women did participate fully in these times, and it must also be noted women repeatedly disobeyed these man-made laws. ...read more.


If satisfied that the husband greatly 'underperformed' for his wife then it was perfectly fine for the couple to divorce, "A man and a woman are to be placed together in one bed and wise women are to be summoned around the bed for many nights. And if the mans member is always found useless and as if dead, the couple are well able to be separated" (Terry Jones, The Middle Ages; 2003). Medieval women should not be regarded as uneducated in these times. For Women of the upper classes it was more common that the wives were far greater readers and more educated than their husbands. A number of women actually used their talents to assert themselves as writers, poets, composers and artists. Probably the most remarkable educated female of these times is the poet Christine de Pisan. Not only was she able to earn her living as a writer but due to her arguments with the clergymen on the rights of women, it is said she was the first feminist. As such an educated woman, her views were hard to discard, "She had strong opinions about what she read, and decided it was necessary to challenge the way men were writing about women" (Terry Jones, The Middle Ages; 2003). It must be concluded after examining the evidence for both the traditional and revisionist views of medieval woman that there is plenty of evidence to back up both opinions concerning women of these times. However, it must be noted that just as in society today, from time to time and place to place women's roles varied widely. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Other Historical Periods section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Other Historical Periods essays

  1. Revision Table - Tudor Rebellions

    * Got to Exeter. Kett's (1549 Rebellions) * Edward, minor, been on throne for two years. * Somerset in control of Regency Council. * S, E and Cramner look for prot reform. * 1549 - first prayer book. Was ambiguous. * Drought + poor harvests lead to famine.

  2. The First English Civil War

    Around Chester, a new Royalist army was being formed under the Lord Byron, and all the efforts of Sir John Brereton and of Sir John Gell, the leading supporter of Parliament in Derbyshire, were required to hold their own, even before Newcastle's army was added to the list of their enemies.

  1. Mideival Outline Essay

    Chivalry is more or less associated with the medieval institution of knighthood and renowned for its dominant role in the battlefields already during the period of the Early Middle Ages.

  2. How important was the takeover of Kingship during the Medieval time-period?

    However brutal though, its success repelled rebellion and lead to a form of conformity from the people, becoming a stepping-stone in Williams strong succession. In juxtaposition to William's undoubted success, Stephen was in comparison poor at suppressing rebellions, despite a strong succession.

  1. To What Extent Was The Late Middle Ages A Time Of Unrest In Europe

    With the growth of these relationships, conflicts became less likely between Spain and other countries, which is certainly a sign that a stable position was being formed in Europe.

  2. To what extent could the Crusades be described as failure within the years 1095-1195?

    The crowd replied by cry: «Deus vult!» («God wants it!"). These words became a battle cry of Crusaders. Thousands of people vowed there and became first crusaders. Pope Urban II commanded the clergy to spread its appeal throughout Western Europe.

  1. 'Financially dependent, without property and denied a political and legal status.' To what extent ...

    In a larger scale, for all the work on the fields, household, and marketplace, women were being paid only 70% of the men?s wages. This is why even with all the extra chores and work away from the fields, they would still be financially indebted to men due to their restricted salary.

  2. To What Extent Does History show that there is no such thing as absolute ...

    This and the opposition of Edgar Atheling are the first signs that William the conqueror did not have absolute power, even though his name may suggest otherwise. The fact that the Duke had to have trusted barons scattered around the country to put down any sign of rebellion proves that he did not have absolute power.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work