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Suppression of women’s equality sometimes took extreme forms. In medieval and RenaissanceEurope, one manifestation of social stress was a sharp rise in the persecution of people thought to bewitches, and due to religious and popular prejudice, a majority of those victimized by these witchhuntswere women. In many parts of India, the ritual of sati, or the burning of Hindu widows on theirhusbands’ funeral pyres, continued. In China, the subjugation of women expressed itself mostinfamously in the painful practice of foot binding, which kept women’s feet tiny and dainty but in the
process crippled them. Firmly established by 1200 and popular among all classes (althoughespecially among elites), foot binding continued into the 1900s.WOMEN AND CHANGE OVER TIME IN ASIA 600–1450Political and religious shifts in Asia caused major change during these years in how women were treated. In India, the arrival of Islammeant that many women were no longer subject to the Hindu caste system or the sati ritual—and came to enjoy more rights thanmost Hindu women with respect to divorce and property. By contrast, the growing dominance of Neo-Confucianism in China led tothe greater subordination of women and contributed to the growing popularity of foot binding. In Japan, the collapse of the Heianregime affected the status of upper-class women. The Heian court had placed great emphasis on cultural brilliance and elaboratemanners, and Heian women exerted a certain degree of social and political influence. However, the rougher warrior ethic of thefeudal shogunates allowed Japanese women fewer opportunities, and unlike European chivalry, the samurai code of Bushido did littleto encourage respectful treatment of women.Organized religions played a crucial role in defining women’s roles and justifying theirsubservience. The majority of Christian theologians, both Catholic and Orthodox, viewed women assubordinate to men, if not inherently more sinful, and refused them positions of spiritual authority.Although Islam proclaimed the desirability of treating women with respect, it also assigned women asecondary status relative to men. Neo-Confucianism encouraged similar thinking in China and EastAsia, and Hindu women were highly restricted by the dictates of the caste system.
AHumans and the Environment, 600–1450MIGRATIONS (VIKING, MONGOL-TURKIC, BANTU, POLYNESIAN)SPREAD OF BANANAS, COTTON, SUGAR, AND CITRUSRICE CULTIVATION (CHAMPA RICE)INTENSIVE FORMS OF AGRICULTURE (INCLUDINGCHINAMPA AND WARU WARU)IMPROVEMENT OF THE HORSE COLLARTHE BLACK DEATHMEDIEVAL CLIMATIC OPTIMUM VS. LITTLE ICE AGEs before, human societies simultaneously adapted to their environment and sought to adapt it totheir own needs and desires. Their environmental impactdramatically increased—sometimesreaching harmful, even self-destructive, levels—thanks to steady population growth, a growing talentfor engineering and construction, and a greater willingness and ability to harvest and depleteresources. On the other hand, environmental factors beyond human control, particularly changes in the