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Women in the Middle Age: Analytical Essay

“The Middle Ages” is the thousand-year period between the fall of the Roman Empire and the European Renaissance. In the patriarchal medieval society, the status of women was vague; they had no political rights. Men are given greater importance than women, this traditionally assigns men more positive attributes, such as being stronger or smarter; women are being discriminated as weaker and less intelligent than men. In general, women fell under control regardless of classes such as queens, princesses, noblewomen, and so on. The different social classes affected their lifestyles in the Middle Ages. In my opinion, women should be treated equally as they played significant roles in society that could not be overlooked.

First and foremost, women have become worthy contributors to the medieval economy. For example, the princesses were often used as the political pawns between two vigorous empires to forge alliances; a lot of marriages took place before the princesses reached their teenage ages. In the Medieval Ages, the queens and princesses had complicated lives which filled with politics, societal pressures, and public opinion. Besides, the noblewomen ran the entire estate while their husbands were off to fight; they even managed the crop productions, resolved the legal problems, and defended the castle against the enemies. By helping their husbands, the townswomen ran the business or trade independently; they also worked in the alehouses, weaving the textiles, and tanning the leathers. The peasant women were laboring in the fields during harvest, and even tending animals or spinning wools. In short, ones should no longer turn a blind eye to their contributions to society.

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Secondly, a vital contribution of women is, of course, their role in caring for the husbands and families. In the Middle Ages, women handled all the household chores and maintained significant control of the families; while men were busy with their specific obligations and put in their full efforts into bringing home to the bacon. It was of utmost importance for them to maintain the tidiness and cleanliness of the space as best as possible to make the most of living situations. Not only that, pregnancy and childbirth were risky during the medieval period; giving birth was a dangerous time for women and childbirth did not discriminate. All mothers could die not only in childbirth but also due to complications such as the breech presentation of the baby. Sadly, approximately more than one in three women died during their child-bearing years. Short to say, ones should not underestimate the sacrifices made by women.

Even if some women are not able to devote significant contributions to the economy, women can still offer monetary support to the families. In the Middle Ages, women were sometimes engaged in other activities by helping their husbands to make ends meet. For instance, some women took up the occupation of spinning and became alewives. Nevertheless, they faced insurmountable difficulty in their career paths as they were paid far less than the standard wages for men. For example, 'Women were more prominent in some trades - dyeing, spinning thread- than others, so any general statement that dyers were well rewarded needs to be qualified by realizing that women in the trade did not receive the high wages of men' (Epstein, 1991, p.118). In the same book, the following statement gives an instance of how much a medieval woman received for her labor and hard work: 'In the winter master masons were earning this yearly income of women in about twenty-five days, according to the ordinance, but in practice, even less time was needed' (Epstein, 1991, p.236). Even though the amount of time spent on working in their jobs may not be substantial, these housewives should still be recognized for their contributions to the family.

In addition, women had no choice in who they would marry; the arrangement of marriage was done by the parents of the bride and groom. Most of the time, the bride and groom were generally strangers until they first met. In the Middle Ages, the marriage was a civil contract between the two people involved; most marriages were political arrangements based on monetary worth. A woman brought a dowry with her when she was to marry; the dowry would be presented to the groom at the time of the marriage. In this modernized world, in a relationship, we expect to love and be loved in return, especially before committing to marriage. Love is considered essential in creating a successful and enduring relationship but it was completely different in the Medieval period.

Last but not least, gender discrimination is still occurring in today still patriarchal societies. For instance, we are able to read articles related to abandoned babies in the newspapers and on television. Expectant parents say that they do not care if they have a boy or a girl, as long as the baby is healthy. However, in some countries, such as China and India, a male child is more valuable than a female child. Due to advances in genetic testing, parents can find out if they are having a boy or a girl, and they may elect to end a pregnancy that would yield a female child.

To sum up, women play a myriad of roles and I agree that the contributions of women to society is significant. By doing research, I have found that women's lives seemed extremely hard and unequally during the Middle Ages. If we compare the current status of women with the ancient time, we can say that the condition is improving gradually. Women are being professional, breadwinners for their families, and an independently thinking individual of the country Traditional women have started proving themselves more skilled and competent in many professions than men. And, day by day the situation is improving face by breaking all the barriers of the way. It only remains for the general public to realize this important but usually neglected fact.

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