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Women in the Middle Ages. Maggie Chen Daphne Su Angela Lin. The Medieval Women ---A General Picture. I. Status A. Inferior to men 1.Unmarried women → obeying fathers 2.Married women → obeying husbands B. Subject to men *Wife-beating was allowed C. Voiceless in politics

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women in the middle ages

Women in the Middle Ages

Maggie Chen

Daphne Su

Angela Lin

I. Status

A. Inferior to men

1.Unmarried women → obeying fathers

2.Married women → obeying husbands

B. Subject to men

*Wife-beating was allowed

C. Voiceless in politics

*The law was man’s law

II. Proportion (Women > Men)

A. High death rate of men

B. Large number of monks and clergies

C. Marriage between different classes:

upper-class women vs. lower-class men

III. Marriage

A.Decided by father

B.Age of getting married

7 years old: searching for husbands

13-14 years old: getting married

C.Dowry required

IV. Power

A. Unmarried women: powerful for possessing lands

B. Married women: powerless

I. Education

A. The main concerns of education

1. Preparing for marriage

2. Learning of being a good wife

B. Schools

1. The households of great ladies

2. The nunneries

C. The basic trainings

1. Courtly manners-- playing chess, telling stories, singing and playing a musical instrument

2. Reading and writing

3. Family medicine and healing

II. Responsibilities of upper class wives

A. The representatives of their absent husbands

1. Managing the household

2. Running the estate

3. Defending their castles against sieges

4. Dealing with legal disputes

5. Greeting guests as hostesses

B. Supervision of the household staff

1. Supervising everything within the castle

2. Supervising the women labor

III. Marriage

*Arranged by their fathers, e.g. Emily in Chaucer’s Knight’s tale

A. Rights

1. For unmarried girls

a. The ownership of land and property

b. The right to sue others

c. The right to make a will or contract

2. For married women

* Loss of aforementioned rights

3. For widows

a. Recovery of the rights

b. Recovery of the lands sold by the husbands

B. Dowry

1. For a bride: A portion of land as the dowry

2. For a widow: 1/3 of the land as the dowry for remarriage

I. Roles of the nunneries

A. An outlet for the upper class women

B. A boarding house for wives and widows

C. Prime boarding school for children

D. Centers of charity and job opportunity

II. Nun’s daily life with strict routine

A. Prayer

B. Study

C. Labor

E.g. digging, haymaking, and embroidering

III. Nunneries enable women:

A. Achieving fulfillment in the spiritual life

B. Reaching personal perfection with reputation and respect

C. Receiving good education

D. Being granted responsibility

I. Definition

A. Working to support themselves with crafts or to assist their husbands’ trades

B. Living in towns and countries

II. Education

A. Learning to read and write

B. Being apprenticed to trades or crafts

C. Training in manners and morals in the master’s house

III. Dowry

A. For wedding

B. For a trade

IV. Responsibility

A. Unmarried women

B. Married women

C. Widows

V. Professions

A. Crafts and trades carried on in shops

E.g. butchers, chandlers, shoe-makers, bookbinders, embroiderers, smiths, goldsmiths, etc.

B. Bye industry carried on at home

E.g. textile making, food and drink producing

*Some women may run more than one bye industry.

VI. Unfair working environment

A. Starting to work since being little

B. Getting lower wages than men with the same job

C. Being unacknowledged in the craft gilds

I. Definition

A. The largest group

B. Mostly living in the countryside

C. Doing the most laborious and menial work

E.g. farming, building, and hard laboring

II. Education

A. Less or no education

B. Learning alphabet and religion

III. Responsibilities

A. Housework

E.g. washing and wring clothes

B. Sharing husbands’ labors

1. Digging up beets

2. Reaping, threshing, and winnowing

3. Shearing sheep

IV. Clothing

A. No luxury which is mainly possessed by middle and upper classes

B. Any clothing that can be grabbed