The general attitude towards women in Medieval times, was that they were inferior to men. Generally, women were taught that they should be meek and obedient to their fathers and husbands, though this did not prevent some women from becoming among the most respected Christian saints and scholars, or in some rare cases, from changing history (like Joan of Arc). In the day-to-day reality of things, Medieval women had a lot of responsibility and were not at all inferior to men in terms of daily effort. Most worked and did not stay at home, contrary to some modern beliefs. Many toiled alongside their families in the fields, and some were employed in workshops or were trades-women. Women sometimes had the responsibility of running large estates, due to the death of a husband (widows were permitted to hold land, and a woman with a lot of land was just as powerful and influential as a man with the same property). They settled local disputes and arranged estate finances. They even took equal responsibility in defending castles or manors from invaders.
Medieval Women’s Clothing
Middle Ages clothing and fashion, including the Medieval Women's Clothing, like everything else was dictated by the Pyramid of Power which was the Middle Ages Feudal System. Medieval clothes provided information about the status of the person wearing them. The clothing and fashion during the Medieval era of the Middle Ages was dominated and highly influenced by the Kings and Queens of the era. Only the wealthy could dress in fashionable clothes. Sumptuary Laws restricted people in their expenditure including money spent on clothes.
Women in the Military Orders
There were two ways anyone could be a knight: by holding land under a knight's fee, or by being made a knight or inducted into an order of knighthood
Several established military orders had women who were associated with them, beyond the simple provision of aid. The Teutonic order accepted consorores who assumed the habit of the order and lived under its rule; they undertook menial and hospitaller functions.
One of the most important example was Joan of Arc
WITCHCRAFT IN THE MIDDLE AGES
Sorcery was very common during the Dark Ages. It was so common that many measurements had to be taken as a failed attempt to completely eradicate satanic practices or sorcery (which were considered to be almost the same)
The most common form of punishment for witches was to be burned at the stake. Nevertheless, this varied greatly from town to town as bigger cities had bigger torture equipment which led to more suffering whilst a smaller town was usually unavailable to use such devices and simply resorted to fire.
Witches were very prone to using certain herbs and animal parts in order to make potions which, they thought, could heal the wounded or extend life as well as other spells.Medieval people were especially scared of this because of natural disasters and phenomena including eclipses, earthquakes, etc.
Everyone was happy when witches were killed…
Tools Used By Witches
Cauldron : It was used to brew herbs, animals and substances in order to combine it properly. They were frequently made of wood, but other materials; such as stone were employed as well.
Dolls: They were employed with the victim's hair or other human part in order for the doll to work effectively. The witch could then torture the doll and what happened to the doll would happen to the victim.
Broom: The most common answer dates back to the Dark Ages when peasants would use brooms to fertilize the crops. They would then ride on top of them as horses.
Witch Ball: They were made for witches to predict the future and reveal hidden answers for a person's life. Before they could be used, they had to be touched by the full moon's light for one night. When not in use, a witch ball had to be kept in a dark box because if the sun light touched it somehow, it would be rendered useless.
The stellar role
In the three centuries preceding the Renaissance, this role was heightened by two roughly parallel developments. The first was the evolution of European universities and their professional schools that, for the most part, systematically excluded women as students, thereby creating a legal male monopoly of the practice of medicine.
Ineligible as healers, women waged a lengthy battle to maintain their right to care for the sick and injured. The 1322 case of Jacqueline Felicie, one of many healers charged with illegally practicing medicine, raises serious questions about the motives of male physicians in discrediting these women as incompetent and dangerous.
The second development was the campaign promoted by the church and supported by both clerical and civil authorities to brand women healers as witches. Perhaps the church perceived these women, with their special, often esoteric, healing skills, as a threat to its supremacy in the lives of its parishioners. The result was the brutal persecution of unknown numbers of mostly peasant women.
Healer Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179)
The Inquisition was a Roman Catholic tribunal for discovery and punishment of heresy, which was marked by the severity of questioning and punishment and lack of rights afforded to the accused. Initially a tribunal would open at a location and an edict of grace would be published calling upon those who are conscious of heresy to confess; after a period of grace, the tribunal officers could make accusations. Punishments included confinement to dungeons, physical abuse and torture. In the beginning, the Inquisition dealt only with Christian heretics and did not interfere with the affairs of Jews but in 1242, the Inquisition condemned the Talmud and burned thousands of volumes. In 1288, the first mass burning of Jews on the stake took place in France.
In 1481 the Inquisition started in Spain and ultimately surpassed the medieval Inquisition, in both scope and intensity.
Fear of Jewish influence led Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand to write a petition to the Pope asking permission to start an Inquisition in Spain. In 1483 Tomás de Torquemada became the inquisitor-general for most of Spain.
More than 13,000 Conversos were put on trial during the first 12 years of the Spanish Inquisition. An estimated 31,912 heretics were burned at the stake, 17,659 were burned in effigy and 291,450 made reconciliations in the Spanish Inquisition. In Portugal, about 40,000 cases were tried, although only 1,800 were burned, the rest made penance.
Woman and Inquisition
In middle ages, The healing arts were not to be practiced without cries of "She's a witch!" Male practitioners of social rank were not as often condemned.
Women on the other hand, were guilty of all manner of things before they could even open their mouths to defend themselves.
Those were dark years for many people, but particularly for women. Age and beauty did not matter. Even the rich governor's wife could be held for questioning and put to death for practicing witchcraft, if there was another woman involved with the husband, or a jealous previous girlfriend.
Music & Entertainment
ENTERTAINMENT IN MIDDLE AGES
Medieval Entertainment varied according to status, included:
Jousts and tournaments
Games and sports
Animal entertainment using dogs,
bears and monkeys
The Medieval people of the Middle Ages shared a common life in the work of the fields, in the sports of the village green, and in the services of the parish church. They enjoyed many holidays; it has been estimated that, besides Sundays, about eight weeks in every year were free from work.
The Medieval entertainers of the Middle Ages included Jesters (A fool or buffoon at medieval courts), Mummers (Masked or costumed merrymaker or dancers at festivals), Minstrels and Troubadours, acrobats and jugglers and conjurers.
A troubadour was originally a travelling musician. The early Troubadours travelled from one village to the next and many also travelled abroad (to the major cities of Europe whilst others travelled to the Holy Land ant the Crusades)
The themes of the songs also dealt with chivalry and courtly love but they also told stories of far lands and historical events.
Many troubadours were nobles and knights who had joined the Crusades. The aristocratic troubadours were poets who originated in the south of France where they wrote the lyrics in Provencal (langue d'oc). The troubadours of the north of France wrote in French (langue d'oil) and were called called trouvères.
Richard the Lionheart was the son of Eleanor of Aquitaine who was one of the greatest patrons of Music and the Troubadours of the Middle Ages.
The jongleurs were often collaborators or assistants of troubadours or minstrels.
They gained a reputation of itinerant entertainers
of the Middle Ages in France and Norman England.
Their repertoire included extravagant skills in dancing,
conjuring, acrobatics, and juggling.
The Jongleurs also played a part in singing, and storytelling.
Many were skilled in playing musical instruments,
although their skills were not greatly recognised or rewarded.
A minstrel was a servant first employed as a castle or court musician.
The name 'minstrel' means a "little servant". Minstrels often created their own ballads but they were also
famous for memorising long poems based on myths and legends which were called 'chansons de geste'.
The themes of the songs sung were chivalry and courtly love and stories of far lands and historical events. The
Minstrels were replaced by Troubadours and started to move around and were known as 'Wandering Minstrels'.
The role of the Minstrel often required many different skills including: Juggling , acrobatics , d ancing, fire eating,
conjuring, playing Musical Instruments, reciting poems, singing, buffoonery which led to roles as jesters and animal
Blondel was a favourite of Richard Coeur de Lion ( King Richard I the Lionheart). The legend is that Blondel the minstrel discovered the place of Richard's imprisonment in Austria by singing the first part of a love-song which Richard and he had composed together, and by the voice of Richard in responding to the strain.
Instruments Some instruments used in medieval music are: The flute was once made of wood rather than silver or other metal, and could be made as a side-blown or end-blown instrument. The recorder, on the other hand, has more or less retained its past form. The pan flute, was popular in medieval times, and is possibly of Hellenic origin. This instrument's pipes were made of wood, and were graduated in length to produce different pitches. Other Medieval instruments: lute, mandora, gittern, psaltery, the dulcimers, The hurdy-gurdy (a mechanical violin using a rosined wooden wheel attached to a crank to "bow" its strings). Instruments without sound boxes such as the Jew's harp were also popular in the time. Early versions of the organ, fiddle (or vielle), and trombone (called the sackbut) existed as well.
Women's involvement with medieval music took a variety of forms; they served at times as audience, as participant, as sponsor, and as creator. The evidence for their roles, like that for their male contemporaries, is sporadic at best.
Perhaps the most famous of the medieval women composers is Hildegard of Bingen. She collected her 77 musical works. Thus, other nuns may have composed plainchant--or even polyphony--for new feasts and special celebrations. Since most medieval music is anonymous, however, their contributions are impossible to trace.
Secular composers fared better. Twenty-one trobairitz (or women troubadours) are known by name. Though only one composition survives with both text and music copied together.
A few women trouvères were active in the thirteenth century, but none of their works survive with music. Some scholars have speculated that songs "in a women's voice," that is, songs in which the speaker is identified as a woman, may reflect women's contributions to the lyric repertory. At the very least, these songs reflect sentiments and musical styles that seemed to their contemporaries to be appropriate for a woman
Women as Performers Women were active performers of secular music. Many women performed as amateurs, either in the home or in courtly or urban settings. Boccaccio's Decameron identifies women singing and dancing, along with their male companions, as do many of the courtly romances of the twelfth and thirteenth-centuries. Women were also active as menestrelles and jongleuresses. Performers themselves, they traveled as part of small groups of entertainers, and were often wives or daughters to male minstrels. In some instances, however, women had independent roles; they were granted permission to participate in the Guild of Minstrels in Paris from 1321 to the seventeenth century. Women as Patrons The lands that Eleanor of Aquitaine (1122-1204) brought to her marriages, first to Louis VII of France and then to Henry II of England, made her one of the most politically influential figures of her day, but her cultural endeavors had an equally profound impact on European civilization. Eleanor's efforts at the court of Poitiers shaped a culture centered on courtly love and chivalric behavior; her sponsorship contributed to the success of the troubadours and to the spread of the Arthurian legends. Other noblewomen may have had a less dramatic impact on musical culture, but they often had musicians in their personal retinue and so helped to shape the prevailing musical style. Indeed, because women often married far from home, they served as a kind of cultural network for importing and mingling new ideas, styles and tastes with the established norms of their husband's court.
Religion Pilgrimages Pilgrimages were an important part of religious life in the Middle Ages. Many people took journeys to visit holy shrines such as the Church of St. James at Santiago de Compostela in Spain, the Canterbury cathedral in England, and sites in Jerusalem and Rome. The Catholic Church was the only church in Europe during the Middle Ages, and it had its own laws and large coffers. Church leaders such as bishops and archbishops sat on the king's council and played leading roles in government. Bishops, who were often wealthy and came from noble families, ruled over groups of parishes called "diocese." Parish priests, on the other hand, came from humbler backgrounds and often had little education. Monks and Nuns Monasteries in the Middle Ages were based on the rules set down by St. Benedict in the sixth century. The monks became known as Benedictines and took vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience to their leaders. They were required to perform manual labor and were forbidden to own property, leave the monastery, or become entangled in the concerns of society. Daily tasks were often carried out in silence. Monks and their female counterparts, nuns, who lived in convents, provided for the less-fortunate members of the community. Monasteries and nunneries were safe havens for pilgrims and other travelers.
Women in Medieval religion THE NUNNERIES Many women chose to dedicate themselves to the Church. Some nuns were dedicated at young ages by their families. However, nuns could enter convent at any stage in life. In many cases, it was a question of true piety, and God became these women's lives. In other cases, monasticism was an escape from a life of shadows and insecurity, childbearing and degradation, and seeing a potential they were taught they did not have go unfulfilled forever. In denying marriage and dedicating their lives to the Church, women were able to preserve both their minds and their bodies. The Church became an asylum where men had access to education -- and if men, why not women? Few women who devoted their lives to the Church ever learned how to write. Priests did not see the need for nuns to write. The life of a nun was based on routine and regularity. The most austere orders of nuns spared themselves no hardship observed in male religious houses. At 2 a.m., the nuns would rise for Mass. At 6 a.m. they would rise for the day and say Prime. Tierce, sext, none, vespers, and Compline followed throughout the day. In winter, when it got dark earlier, nuns retired to bed at 7 p.m.; in the summer, at 8 p.m.
THE BEGUINES In the 13th Century a female religious movement swept across northern Europe. The Beguines were not nuns, and they were not under the command of a male abbot or priest. They were lay women who adopted a nun-like lifestyle voluntarily. Less expensive than the dowry paid for a nun, a true bride of Christ, the Beguine houses were able to accomodate women from the middle and lower classes of society. Beguines supported themselves by weaving, doing housework, and the like. Members of the order were free to leave and even to marry.
Noble Lady & Peasant Women: Two different lives
Household The noble lady played an important part in the efficiency of running the estate of her husband. She made sure everything ran smoothly, from the provisioning of the keep to the defense of the estate while her husband was absent. The management position held by many noble women wasn't a visible one in comparison with the men in her family. The peasant woman did have a very visible role to play in her household, but, she too was affected by the negative view of women. She worked very hard to help support the family, kept the house, cooked, did the wash, made the cloth and clothes, milked the cows, tended the fire, cared for the children, and basically took care of any other task her husband did not have the time for, and she often earned extra income outside of the home. There were numerous opportunities available to the peasant woman to make money, including the making and selling of cheese, butter, and ale.
Perfect Lady or Evil? The other view of women, generally affected the nobility and was just as damaging to the noble lady as the negative view. Troubadour poetry, often represented noble women as "perfect" lady, and made it even more difficult for noble women to compete with men. The peasant woman knew she was viewed as evil and, because she knew that she was not, went about her business of surviving.
Mature age The peasant woman usually worked as either a wage laborer (haymaking, thatching, reaping, or as a washer woman) or a live-in servant (engage in child care, clothes washing, and any other odd job desired by her employer). When the peasant woman married, she became mistress of the house and took up her position as a wife. The noble lady , however, had no place in the world if she did not marry or enter a nunnery. Society dictated that it was her responsibility to marry and bear as many children as possible, and if she choose not to, then she had to enclose herself. Some noble girls were forced to join a nunnery in order to prevent them from claiming inheritance rights, and others were given to the convent to prevent them from needing a huge dowry. This alternative was an important one for the noble and often offered the lady more freedom and power than marriage could provide. Looking at the position of the noble woman in the working world, the peasant woman worked harder physically, but the role of the noble lady was much more stressful mentally.
Family The women usually had no say in who was chosen to be her husband because her marriage was arranged by her parents or guardians for social, political, or economic gain. The peasant woman's marriage could be remarkably different. Some peasants were allowed to marry for personal reasons. The noble lady also lacked the opportunities that the peasant had as a single woman. In most circumstances, a noble woman was more likely to play the role of a birther rather than that of a mother and, although she had more freedom than a peasant who reared her own children, the noble also lost the chance to experience the unconditional love of her children. Because she did not breast feed and forfeited the important contraceptive effect that could have prevented closely spaced subsequent pregnancies, which possibly caused more of her children to die in infancy, or even led to her own demise. The peasant that breast fed had fewer children, and likely experienced a closer bond with her children than that of the noble lady.
Noble women The noble lady had money, good food, expensive clothes and possessions, a high status in society, lived in a castle or a manor, and was sometimes viewed as the savior of men. She also had few, if any, good personal relationships, was forced into a convent or a marriage in which she had no say, was in charge of a large household but rarely received recognition for her work, had to keep up appearances by wearing uncomfortable clothes and behaving in a manner befitting her station in life, and when her husband died she usually lost her status in society.
Peasant Women The peasant woman had less money and food than the noble, she wore plain, homemade clothes, had a low status in society, lived in a small hut or longhouse, and was often viewed as the debaser of men. She also had many good personal relationships, had some say in who she married, took care of a small, normally appreciative household, had the opportunity to increase her wealth through work, had fewer children than the noble, was less likely to die in childbirth because she bore fewer children, and when her husband died she lost many possessions, but generally had the chance to regain all that she had lost without remarrying.