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Medieval Women

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Medieval Women - Page Text Content

S: Medieval Women By Emily Hershgordon

BC: About the Author | Emily Hershgordon, author of Medieval Women is a 13 year old student at Sandy Run Middle School. She resides in Maple Glen, PA with her parents and older brother Morey. She is an avid reader and enjoyed writing about women in the Middle Ages. In her spare time, Emily pursues another passion, dancing ballet.

FC: Medieval Women | By Emily Hershgordon

1: This book is dedicated to all who have helped me grow, learn, and believe in myself. Many thanks to my parents, brother, and grandparents for all of their constant love and support. Thank you to all of my teachers who help me learn something new each and every day.

2: Table of Contents | Section 1 Importance of Women in Middle Ages Section 2 Roles and Responsibilities

3: Section 3 Code of Conduct Section 4 Clothing and Adornment Section 5 Changes Over Time

4: Section 1 Importance of Women in the Middle Ages

6: Women in Middle Ages played an important role in history. Although people at the time viewed men as superior to women, women were still vital to society. They were integral to domestic order and also contributed in many ways outside of

7: the home. A medieval woman's place in society was determined by her birthright. Therefore, a woman could be placed in any class in the feudal system, the medieval social structure. Women could be as high as a

8: royal or a noble or as low as a merchant or peasant. Regardless of their place in the feudal system, women still had a lower ranking then men who were in the same caste. Each caste brought different roles and responsibilities, code of

9: conduct, clothing and adornment, and overall lifestyle to the women during the Middle Ages.

10: Section 2: Roles AND Responsibilities

11: Medieval women were relied upon to fulfill various responsibilities despite their lack of power and significance in society. However, their roles and responsibilities were not universal and varied depending on their wealth and place in the feudal system.

12: First and foremost, women took care of the domestic tasks. Women had to bear many children since children were vital to the survival of both rich and poor medieval families. For a wealthy family, it was essential for the woman to have a son to heir the throne and/or

13: inherit property. The poor families needed children to help the parents with their daily work. Women were also responsible for taking care of their babies and small children. Since this was not desirable work, wealthy women would hire other women to watch

14: over and care for their young children. They would often hire wet nurses to breastfeed their babies. Other domestic responsibilities of women in the Middle Ages included cooking and cleaning. Rich women hired servants to assist with these duties.

16: Women's work also extended beyond the home and caring for their children. Similar to their other duties, this specific work depended on their place in society. Most women, excluding the upper class, worked a variety of jobs. Some common jobs were midwives,

17: farmers, weavers, spinners, nurses, maids, and servants. Sometimes, women had to work more than one job due to the fact that they were paid lower wages than men. Also, peasant women often worked in the fields beside men while merchant woman helped

18: their husbands with his business and/or craft. Despite their more comfortable lives, wealthy women also worked hard. They helped their husbands run their estates. They were in charge of many servants such as cooks, gardeners, and

19: chamber maids. Some wealthy women also managed a farm, settled fights, and helped handle the finances. Overall, as you can see, no matter what a woman's rank was during the Middle Ages, she still had to work very hard.

22: Section 3: Code of Conduct

23: There were various "unwritten rules" created by family and society that all medieval women had to follow. Since women were always overshadowed by men, they were required to be obedient to their fathers and husbands. They were constantly told to be quiet and solemn. Also, women could

24: not express their thoughts, feelings, views, or make their own judgments. Medieval women always had to leave important business to men. Noblewomen were required to look self-controlled and elegant to the public eye. Societal law did not give much freedom to women since it was

26: written by men. Women could not own property or inherit land, divorce their husbands, own a business, or get married without parental approval. Not only could women not choose their spouse, but wealthier girls had their marriages arranged for them at ten or eleven years old!

27: Women from poorer families did not get married until they were in their twenties since they were needed to help out at home.

28: Section 4: Clothing and Adornment

29: The clothing of medieval women truly varied depending on their place in the feudal system and their wealth. Though the styles did change over time, there were certain typical outfits worn by each societal category.

30: Peasants wore the most simple outfit which consisted of a long robe, leather boots, a kerchief, and a belt with a purse attached to serve as a pocket. The middle class women wore comfortable clothes that allowed them to help out with their husband's trade as well as

32: their own everyday chores. They wore woolen kirtles that fit closely around the upper body. Kirtles were dresses that reached the floor and were worn with a special belt that had bells attached. Middle class women wore linen head wraps. This was a sign of marriage.

34: Middle class women also wore leather shoes. Wooden molds were attached to the bottoms of the shoes when it was muddy so that they would not become dirty. Middle class women also wore woolen over-the-knee socks held up by leather garters. When attending church on Sundays, they

35: would wear pin-on sleeves and prayer beads as a sign of respect. To add to their outfits, they wore decorated hair pins.

36: High class women tended to flaunt their wealth by wearing lavish clothing. They wore long silky kirtles that were usually red or purple since these were considered "rich colors." The kirtles had long pointy sleeves A woman's middle finger slid through a hoop at end

37: of fabric to hold the sleeve down. Wealthy women adorned themselves with many accessories that made outfits more elaborate. There were many detailed head and hair pieces such as gold nets which held hair in place, fancy barrettes,and scarves that wrapped around the head and neck.

40: Section 5: Changes Over Time

41: Women today truly vary from women during the Middle Ages since they have significance in society and are considered equal to men. To begin, women have careers and can be anything men can be. Women and men who have the same

42: job are often paid similarly. Also, women today are not totally in charge of domestic affairs. Now, they are shared between both the father and mother. Currently, there are no longer any "unwritten rules" by family and society since women are

43: considered equal to men. Women today sometimes correct men more on their behavior in public than men correct women. Clothing is also very different today from the Middle Ages. No longer are women wearing kirtles and leather shoes.

44: Instead of having a standard outfit, women today wear many different clothing items for various occasions. For example, dresses are mostly worn to parties while casual clothing may be jeans and a t-shirt or a tunic with leggings.

46: Although there are many differences between medieval and modern women, there are still some similarities. First of all, both women today and in the Middle Ages had responsibilities and roles outside of the home. Also, some women still have to

47: compensate for having lower paying jobs. These women may have to work more than one job and cannot afford high-end materialistic items. Lastly, women today still dress differently depending on their wealth.

49: Copyright 2011 by Emily Hershgordon All Rights Reserved Published on Manufactured in United States of America

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  • Title: Medieval Women
  • Enrichment Period 4-Medieval Women project
  • Tags: medieval, middle ages, women
  • Published: about 7 years ago