Presentation on theme: "WOMEN IN THE MIDDLE AGES Learning Target: We will learn how medieval women made or used opportunities to improve their lives in spite of the limitations."— Presentation transcript:
WOMEN IN THE MIDDLE AGES Learning Target: We will learn how medieval women made or used opportunities to improve their lives in spite of the limitations placed on them by society.
SOME BACKGROUND Women seen alternately as bad and weak (Eve) and as holy and pure (Mary), and those images continued to influence men’s treatment and perception of women. Women were often regarded as children who needed men’s instruction and discipline to avoid falling into evil ways. Women who were strange, disliked, or unpleasant might be charged with witchcraft by men or other women.
NOBLEWOMEN Disadvantages Married young (13-14) Could not choose own husband Might bear a child every year by mid-30’s Some sent away age 7 for training at another lord’s house (became lady-in-waiting) Considered inferior to men (all classes) Subject to discipline by husbands and fathers (all classes)
NOBLEWOMEN Responsibilities Supervise servants Prepare for and entertain visitors Run all affairs of manor in husband’s absence – Order supplies for castle – Pay bills and wages – Supervise farming and collect rents – Care for sick and injured – Hear complaints from tenants/serfs – Defend castle
NOBLEWOMEN Opportunities Learned to read, write, and do some math Learned music, dancing, embroidery, sewing Horseback riding and hunting Games Might inherit kingdom if no sons Widow might rule if no sons Could rule as regent for young son
NOBLEWOMEN Legal Rights Could inherit land Could rule country Could run a manor or kingdom in husband’s absence Could join a convent instead of remarrying Land she inherited remained her land even if she married
SOME BACKGROUND There were free and unfree peasants on manors Unfree (villiens) were tied to the land and owed many fees to the lord Free peasants owned land, could leave, and owed fewer fees but were not necessarily in better financial shape.
PEASANTS/SERFS Disadvantages Hard physical labor For unfree, no upward mobility Little to no education Poorest of city girls started work by age 7 (as servants) Unfree had to pay a fee to marry someone not on manor
PEASANTS/SERFS Responsibilities Cook and clean Clean fleece, spin, weave, sew Help with farm work in fields Fed livestock Milked and sheared Worked as servants in manor house
PEASANTS/SERFS Opportunities Limited! Could inherit land if no sons If husband died, kept land Land handed down to children Might marry landholder or free peasant to leave manor
PEASANTS/SERFS Rights Serf got small plot of land to farm on manor Could bring a complaint against another peasant at manor court Free peasants might do better for selves by selling produce at market or by spinning
SOME BACKGROUND Guilds were like early trade unions Regulated business to keep them honest Took care of injured members and of wives and children in case a man died Regulated training of apprentices and journeymen Exercised some political power in towns
TOWNSWOMEN/ARTISANS Disadvantages Discrimination from male artisans Could join guilds but not attend guild social events Paid less than men for same work Low wages forced some women into prostitution and stealing Servants the lowest paid No help in old age – may become beggars
TOWNSWOMEN DISADVANTAGES CONTINUED Elderly might trade land and home for place to live and small allowance Widows particularly vulnerable Most women had to work for a living
TOWNSWOMEN/ARTISANS Responsibilities Depended on job Many in cloth industry, esp. silk Crafts such as shoemaking, goldsmith, barber, armorer Some made food and beverages (particularly beer and ale) Innkeepers or restaurant owners
TOWNSWOMEN/ARTISANS Opportunities Could become rich Widows of guildmembers could stay in guild and take apprentices If remarried within guild could keep taking apprentices Daughters of guildsmen could take up trade and enter guild Married in late teens
Townswomen/Artisans Opportunities Continued More likely able to choose own husband Gathered in taverns to socialize with other women By end 1300s some schools for girls age 6-12
TOWNSWOMEN/MERCHANTS Rights Guilds regulated trade and ensured fair treatment of apprentices Economic success influenced ability to control own lives If married to prosperous merchant might have servants and have to do little work
CHURCHWOMEN Disadvantages Lives strictly controlled No marriage Could not own anything Not often among people Generally only available to noblewomen (fee to enter convent) Might be placed by family if had no dowry
CHURCHWOMEN Responsibilities Depended on the order Praying Reading/writing Needlework Caring for sick Teaching young girls
CHURCHWOMEN Opportunities Education Possibility of earning prestige and power (esp as abbess) Avoid arranged marriages Noble widows might join to avoid remarrying Security into old age
CHURCHWOMEN Rights Participated in running of convent Free to remain single
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER In which class did women have the most opportunities to improve their condition and control their own lives? In which class do women have the most opportunities to improve their condition and control their own lives in 2011? In which class did women live the hardest lives? What would the women with the hardest lives have in common with the women who have the hardest lives in 2011?
HITTING THE TARGET Write a paragraph explaining how women managed to improve their lives and create opportunities for themselves in the middle ages in spite of the limitations imposed on them.