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Did Attitudes Towards the Status of Women and Marriage Change in the Late- Middle Ages?

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Introduction

Did Attitudes Towards the Status of Women and Marriage Change in the Late- Middle Ages? The Medieval approach to the subject of marriage was entirely distinct and unlike our own. It is difficult to understand their view on married life, as it appears to us, in the modern day to be much more of a contract for the consolidation of estates and monetary gain rather than the love of two people. However the view of women in general was very unlike the outlook of our contemporary society and to understand their view of marriage we must first understand the outlook of women in the Middle Ages. Women are first mentioned in The Bible in Genesis 2:21-3. It is described how woman is created from the rib of man and how the man said 'This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of man'1 The following passages in The Bible describe the fall of Eve and the temptation of Adam. From the very first literature, women are depicted with less moral standing than men and are seen as the downfall of all good, honest Christians. Apostles such as St Paul and St Augustine are also seen to have a grave role in the shaping of the view of women in the Middle Ages. ...read more.

Middle

His tone is understanding and paternal rather than that of a husband, although this would have been reassuring for the young woman. He states that he does not wish 'a service too humble or too hard'. He wishes only for the same treatment as his contemporaries receive from their wives. In return she asks him not to correct her mistakes in front of other but to be sensitive to her youth and inexperience and to amended her errors in private. That is precisely why this book of guidance and direction was conceived. The first part of his book is centered on Biblical stories, called exempla in the Middle Ages. Some of which centre on the Menagiers own experiences. The second part is a guide to domesticity. Including gardening tips and advice on how to handle the hired service. There is also a cookbook included of his favorite recipes. The third section is centered around entertainment, both of guests to their home and for the young lady herself. Unfortunately this section doesn't seem to be concluded. It would seem that the Menagier has rather contemporary opinions of marriage, in his view that he understands the hardship involved in wifely duties, however this positive scene is still quite far from what we would now deem as acceptable opinion. He compares the loyalty he expects from his wife to be like that of a dog. ...read more.

Conclusion

It was already against the law to marry in secret. In conclusion we can note that there were many changes in the Middle Ages concerning women and marriage. However society did progress through the extreme misogynist early Middle Age men of Christianity such as St Augustine who is to blame for many anti - feminist opinions. To the slightly more liberal views of the later leaders such as Juan de Torquemada (1388 - 1468) who believed that man should love his wife like Christ loves the Church. Although women were always to be seem as second class, up until the mid Twentieth century, positive changes were made. A woman like Chauser's hero Alysoun could never have been conceived in earlier days. She encapsulated everything that the Church hated in women; she was loud, she drew attention to herself and she had re-married no less than five times. However women like this did exist and instead of caring about what the Church thought, she would have reveled in their distaste. This would have never been possible earlier. So matters changed throughout the Middle Ages and after that and are still changing today. Opinions towards marriage today are very different to only a couple of decades ago, as are views on women. Things will always continue to change and evolve, nothing ever stands still. 1 Women in the Middle Ages A.M.Lucas Page 3 2 The Medieval Vision C.Erickson Page 189 3 Women in the Middle Ages A.M.Lucas Page 64 4 Women in the Middle Ages A.M.Lucas Page 66 ...read more.

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