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Did Women Enjoy a Higher Status in Early or Late Medieval Societies - Essay Example

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Status of Women in Early and Late Medieval Times Introduction It has become difficult to document the history of women during the medieval times due to a myriad of reasons, including the inability of women to write during those times and the restriction that was put on the feelings and statements of women during those times…
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Did Women Enjoy a Higher Status in Early or Late Medieval Societies
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"Did Women Enjoy a Higher Status in Early or Late Medieval Societies"

Download file to see previous pages It is important to note from the onset that the family structure in the early Middle Ages was highly patriarchal in nature in that as much as women had rights; the rights of their male counterparts superseded theirs. Bennett (2000, p.142) while quoting the great feminist historian Eileen Power states that the overall status of women during the medieval periods was one characterized with serious problems rife with a culture of misogyny. This assumes female inferiority and a social structure that invests considerable power on the life of men over that of women (Power and Postan 2012, p.22). For example in some societies like Germany and the Roman empire during the medieval times women were of little significance and were seen as objects especially in marriage and family settings. Even in marriage, the man was seen as the head of the union that authoritatively shows that the freedom of the woman both in early and late medieval period was greatly curtailed. Although the women were considered inferior during the Middle Ages, some possessed extraordinary power and ability to perform some of the duties and privileges reserved for men. Some of the important and revered women of the middle ages include Hildegard of Bingen, Christine de Pizan and Eleanor of Aquitaine amongst others who were very successful in one aspect of the society or the other. While there is a common belief that women possessed no rights in the Middle Ages, there are situations that show that some societies treated women well especially with the introduction of chivalry that instilled respect for women. Women’s Inheritance during the Medieval Ages Women could not administrate directly their patrimony and laws on hereditary could not favour them whatsoever due to the fact that it was assumed that the women belonged to their parents while they were nubile and to their husbands while in matrimony. Also, the women in medieval period could not divorce their husbands and were not allowed to own any property unless they were widows or inherit property from their parents if they had male siblings. As much as inheritance was greatly controlled by men in the medieval society, some women could make decisions as to the inheritance of property. Most women with vast resources chose to give their property to charities while others sponsored projects such as the construction of roads and bridges that was deemed as missionary in nature. In historical discussions, a woman by the name Frideborg a rich widow who decreed that her daughter should distribute her inheritance to the poor upon her death while in the pagan Germanic society and the Old Icelandic societies, widows had more control over their own finances other women (Wicker 2012, p. 262). The fact that women were buried with their earthly belongings combined with competitive displays of wealth and abundance the women in medieval society lived in. According to Herlihy (1975, pp.1-22), the more the hopes of the woman surviving improved and her number of relatives improved the more her social position deteriorated. Therefore, in the early medieval property systems, women had a control over their inheritance and a role in controlling their assets. They however lost this control as the wealth trickled down generations where the control of the inheritance withered (Herlihy 1985, pp.11-13). For those women who wielded wealth and status in the medieval ages, their most important ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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