Gender Roles in Medieval Society. Marriage practices varied between Italy and England (even within England) from the 11 th to 14 th centuries.
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These practices were motivated out of the fear of the father’s death, which would leave the child as ward of and the property at the discretion of the lord, who could, in turn, sell the marriage rights.
The Idea of Love
in the Middle Ages
Early Christians did not want to offend contemporaries by maintaining an equal social position for Women. There is the attitude that the Weaker Sex requires restriction and support in the Early Christian writings.
In the 6th century, Roman Empresses still had a great deal of power and could come from humble origins (like Theodora).
In the 9th century, status and wealth begin to lose ground to prejudice against the sex, and women are given important legal rights in their familial capacities--but they begin to be limited socially. While these patterns were always in flux, the social distinctions were becoming more rigid, and upward mobility (for both sexes) began to become more difficult, if not impossible.
•The relative peace and prosperity and the continued contact with Moorish Spain nurtured a civilized culture, based around the courts of Aquitaine, Auvergne, and Poitou.
•At these courts, from the twelfth century onwards, troubadours and trobairitz performed, combining the skills of poets, musicians, and singers.
Courtly Love was revolutionary because it placed women, who had no real legal power in medieval society, in a position of power over their lovers.
The goal could be spiritual (platonic) or earthly (physical consummation).
The goal could be spiritual (platonic)
Or earthly (physical consummation).
The troubadours were soon imitated in Northern France and Germany
During the entire period of the Middle Ages this new idea of romantic love was seen as a humanizing and refining influence.
The knight-hero’s quest for love and self-actualization was contrasted to the traditional knight’s function as a warrior fighting for lord, comrades, or society.
In the first century B.C.E., Ovid composed The Art of Loving.
This was a how-to book on seduction of women written to a male audience.
Ovid admits that people “fall in love” as the result of strong sexual attraction
Between 1184 and 1186, Andreas Capellanus composed On The Art of Honorable Loving.
Andreas’s book may have been an elaborate intellectual joke, for he takes Ovid’s themes of adulterous love and subjects it to the medieval methods of scholarly analysis.
Andreas sees falling love as a spiritual exercise, almost a duty.
They co-opted it and used its ideas to structure their society, their literature, and the behavior expected by its noblemen and women.
• The code’s existence tells us that they enjoyed debating the rights and wrongs of romantic love and that the society needed it in some way.
-To make sense of something potentially chaotic and destructive
-To impose order on experience
-To provide meaning to life