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Women of Renaissance Renaissance period started back in the 16 th Century Italy and grasp the attention of the whole Europe. During that challenging period of time many new forms and styles of arts, literature, and customs emerged. Economic, social, and cultural changes affected the lives of everyone. Particularly the role of women in society was affected. There were four categories that women were labeled to, wives, mothers, widows and daughters. Within each of these branches, certain duties were always expected of them.
Another significant aspect of the Renaissance period was the relationship of the role of woman in towns and in countryside. Womens role in towns was similar to countryside but in some aspects there were differences. In this research we are going to talk about the role of women during Renaissance period and particularly examine the aspects of the region in other words country side aspects and town aspects. Inequalities between men and women have always affected society. Men were constantly gaining up on women and spoke of them with contempt.
They believed that woman was more sinful than man. This belief goes back to original sin when Eve had been seduced by the devil. Eves actions made men assume that women deserved to suffer. However, the Renaissance helped to narrow the gap between the two sexes.
All women whether they are of noble blood, a shopkeepers sister, or a farm workers daughter, were placed on a higher pedestal then they had expected during this time. Womens positions in society had effects on the Renaissance period just as great as any mans. Noble women dont appear to have a hard life, but when you look between the lines they have it just as rough as any other women of that time. Steven Ozment wrote a good book called Magdalena and Balthazar, which expresses the issues of the womens position during the Renaissance period. Balthazar was a merchant who traveled a couple months out of each year for his trade. Magdalena, his wife, was very devoted to him and helped him with his business.
Their relationship, which included trust, loyalty, and love, was very different then most married couples of their time. They had a son together and even though he was not in their lives for long, he was dearly treasured. Marriage in the sixteenth century varied greatly from Magdalena and Balthazar's relationship. Besides loving, trusting, and respecting each other Magdalena and Balthazar shared a closeness that many couples of their time could not come close to achieving.
Magdalena would share her thoughts about everything with him. She would express her feelings of widows remarrying too soon saying that it is a sign of betrayal to their dead husband. She also shares her business interests with Balthazar. Most men would not put up with that and not listen to their wives, but Balthazar valued what Magdalena had to say. He too shared his worries and opinions with her. They always expressed how they felt about each other and they were always trying to prove their love to each other.
This shows us how great the change in the role of women was during the time period. A while ago women were treated much worse and men did not really care what women had to say. Magdalena and Balthazar's marriage was quite different then that in the sixteenth century. Their marriage was based on love, loyalty, trust, and respect. Magdalena and Balthazar had achieved a close and personal relationship between themselves in which other couples probably desired. They had a son together in whom they cherished and loved.
Although life brought them some hardships, they basically had a happy joyful life. They looked to God for answers, but found joy in themselves. Their relationship had many qualities of modern day times and was ultimately successful. Even though Magdalena and Balthazar's marriage happened in the sixteenth, it was so full of love and joy that any couple from any time would love to have achieved the kind of relationship that these two have shared. Inequalities between men and women have always affected society. Men were constantly gaining up on women and spoke of them with contempt.
They believed that woman was more sinful than man. This belief goes back to original sin when Eve had been seduced by the devil. Eves actions made men assume that women deserved to suffer. However, the Renaissance helped to narrow the gap between the two sexes. All women whether they are of noble blood, a shopkeepers sister, or a farm workers daughter, were placed on a higher pedestal then they had expected during this time.
Womens positions in society had effects on the Renaissance period just as great as any mans. Noble women dont appear to have a hard life, but when you look between the lines they have it just as rough as any other women of that time. From the beginning, young women were required to learn the basic household skills that they would be expected to execute as wives and mothers. These women did perform textile work, but they did it for luxury, they did not actually need the items they would make.
They would use gold thread in their tapestries instead of common cotton. Other domestic skills consisted of embroidering, spinning, weaving, managing economy, supervising servants, and nursing any ailing household members. Beyond this noble women were expected to entertain their husbands guests and see to the purchase and storage of supplies for the house. From their mothers, young ladies learned about the values of chastity, obedience and silence. Girls were expected to be seen and not heard. Going to church was most often the only time they would get any kind of social interaction outside their families.
An early humanist once said he would rather see a girl deaf and blind than over stimulated to pleasure. Teachings of virginity were strong in anyones home for both boys and girls in all classes. Before a young lady was to be married, her father had to assure her fiancees father that she was indeed a virgin. If a young woman lost her virginity, by rape or seduction, she was most likely to be abandoned by her family. This also meant she was liable to turn to prostitution as a form of employment.
At the beginning of the Renaissance, court was the only sphere where women could convert social power into political power. This was mainly because court was one of the few places women were expected to be seen. When upper class women went out, they had to be accompanied by another adult. They were to be constantly supervised at all times. Toward the end of the era, ladies were just beginning to spend more time in the company of men. They were now eating at the table with them, traveling with them, and influencing their art.
Having the presence of women around seemed to improve the mens general social behavior. Women took great pride in their looks, just like women of today do. Queens and princesses decked themselves with precious jewels, gold, and pearls. Ladies stuffed themselves into tight corsets to slim their figures. High foreheads were considered so beautiful that women shaved or plucked their hairlines back to achieve the divine look. Blonde hair was preferred to most women and some men.
Fashionable gentlemen and ladies dyed their hair to complete their aristocratic appearance. Peasant women would grow their hair long, then cut it and sell it to provide wigs for noble class women. Peasant women performed manifold duties, from tending to fowl, sheep and the vegetable garden to brewing beer and assisting with the harvest. On top of all this they still had the children to raise and a husband to take care of. Unless they could afford pewter or copper pots, peasant women cooked their food in clay pots. Meals were insufficient and bland to the tongue in most cases.
Furniture was scarce in their homes. Most houses only had straw-stuffed beds and a kitchen table with chairs to fill up the room. In conclusion, the age of the Renaissance affected everyone in society, especially the roles of women in the household, city, and in court life. I believe that women were underestimated in their jobs during this time. The highest praise which could then be given to a woman was that she had the mind and the courage of men. Although they did earn some rights, women were still forbidden to hold office, paternal powers in the family, receive inheritance and many other things.
The wealthy women who were fortunate enough to receive a small form of education potentially could have done much more if they were given the same opportunities that men were given. Labor class women, who did everything around the house, from shearing the sheep to raising the children, were also highly depreciated. The Renaissance in Western Europe brought forward new ideas and as Renaissance is defined, the revival or rebirth so was the circle of society surrounding the women. Women were given the chance to take the higher step in society, which they tried jumping on, but were often pushed back down. Bibliography: Balestracci, Duccio, Paolo Squatriti (Translator), Betsy Merideth (Translator), The Renaissance in the Fields: Family Memoirs of a Fifteenth-Century Tuscan Peasant, Pennsylvania State University Press, 1999. Ozment, Steven, Magdalena and Balthazar: An Intimate Portrait of Life in 16 th Century Europe revealed in the Letters of a Nuremberg Husband and Wife, Yale University Press; Reprint edition, 1989.
Levin, Women in the Renaissance, Becoming Visible: Women in European History, Houghton Mifflin College, Chapter 6 pg 153, 169. Wiesner, Spinning out Capital: Womens Work in Re industrialize Europe, 13501750, Becoming Visible: Women in European History, Houghton Mifflin College 1987, Chapter 8, pgs. 203, 227.
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