The middle age which is also known as medieval times was a period in history that lasted from the fifth to fifteenth century. The economy in this time depended on the manorial system which was based on farming. During this period of time, women played many important roles. There were mainly two different types and classes of women and one of them was peasant or serf and the other one was noble women. And also there was one more type of women which was nun. Apparently of course there were more serf women than noble women. This essay will mainly illustrate the roles of women in middle ages and marriages in this period.
All classes of women in middle ages had to go through hard life. Obviously serf women would have a harder life time than noble women and nuns. Serf women worked hard on the manor. They spent most of their work time in the farm of their lords and also in their own field given by them. They had to do every farm works except heavy plowing. They did harvesting, planting, shepherding. Beside that they also had to do house works, taking care of home and raising their large families.
Some serf women even worked the works which were considered as men’s works such as blacksmiths, carpenters, etc. As they became serfs they could not run away from their lords’ lands. They had to work and live there forever and they were considered to be property of their lords which was not much different from the cattle. They were also forced to pay high taxes, ten percent of what they got.
The differences which made noble women from serf women were largely depended on their ability, personality, dowry and family connection. They knew how to read and write and often they were better educated than their noble husbands. For noble and rich women, they could have own land and hold offices. They also had to do house works and take care of their families as serf women did. Besides that they had to run the land and supervised the training of young girls living in the castles when their husbands or lords were gone for battle or absent. They had to know how to cook, weave and spin at least. Some noble women even knew about the medicine since there were not much doctors in this period of time.
All the women in the manor including noble women sometimes had to take part in military like defending their manor against enemies and moreover they sometimes also were included in the battlefields. During medieval ages women are not equally treated as men. Most of the women were under men except noble women were higher than serf and peasant men but still noble women were under their lords. Women were oppressed and always a second class to men. But later women gradually gained more and more respect and independence.
Women in the middle ages married so young like at the age around fourteen. Most marriages were arranged marriage and mostly fathers chose the partners for them. They had little say in who they would like to marry or when they want to marry. Even a girl under age of ten could be married to fifty or sixty years old man. The church did not allow divorce during this time so the wife would have to stay with her husband until he died.
And when he died, his wife who became widow still could be young and would be married or forced to married again. After the husbands died, wives could get his properties and get married again. In the upper classes family, fathers offered money, land and goods when their daughters were married to be taken to marriage. Some people thought that unmarried daughters were a burden to their family. So they were often sent to become nuns or forced them married early. But there were also women who stayed single. They usually became single if there were not married yet when they were over twenty.
As these above statements shown, women in medieval time didn’t have an easy life although some had more harsh life than others. But it is bad that they were treated unequally compare to men. It is a lot better nowadays that women get more opportunities than in medieval ages. And the marriage system during medieval times was terrible that the gap between husbands and wives ages could be so different and most of women were forced to married. Fortunately the world that I am living in at present is a lot better for girls and women compare to medieval period.