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I need an outline of pages 1-17 describing the role of women in society in this time period and how they were

viewed. No need to go into depth in specific people or writings.

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Literature of the Middle Ages
and the Renaissance
MEDIEVAL AND RENAISSANCE HISTORY
The pears that historians define as the Old English period, the Middle Ages,
and the Henaissance constitute a time of important literary activity. From
the first half of the eighth century, when scholars speculate that the great
Angle Savon epic called Beowulf was composed, to the years between 1384
14co, when Geoffrey Chaucer wrote his Canterbury Tales, to 1604,
when Shakespeare's Hamlet was first printed in London, these age produced
i'm bet of classics. Besides Beowulf, the Old English era saw the compos
dimmed euch major poemme as "The Dream of the Rood" and "The Wanderer."
In the Middle Agea, besides the Canterbury Tales, arthen created courtly
romances wich an Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (1374-1400), dream
thouis such an Pirn Plowman fea, 1372-89), and religious dramas, include
ing The Second Shepherd's Play (ca. 1425) and Everyman (after 1495).
Finally, the Renaissance years that fostered Shakespeare's astounding crea
thity also developed the talents of such poets us Edmund Spenser (The
Farm Queene, 1590, 1596, 1609), Christopher Marlove (Doctor Faustin,
lol, 16161, Sir Philip Sidary (Arcadia, 1590, 1593), Thomas Wyatt, and
Ben Joneson. It Is algnilicant, however, that most of the writers who flourished
in these periods were men. When we turn to the literary history of women
in these nine hundred years, we find no tests in the Old English period that
have been definitively identified as composed by women, few by medieval
wecorn, and - in comparison to the great wave of male-authored teats pro-
duced in this period-comparatively few by Renaissance women.
The female writers whose works we include here suppest the kinds of
women whose words have been preserved. Women's literature in Middle
English is represented by just four somewhat shadowy figures a mysterious
Anglo Norman arbtocrat who composed compelling, verified romances
(Marie de Franceh a religious recluse (Julian of Norwich), an recentric
preacher ( Margery Kempe), and an enigmatic author of hunting and fishing
handbooks, possibly a prioress (Juliana Berners), whose authorship has been
Intermittently disputed over the centuries. More prolific and better known,
Benaissance women of letters are exemplified by nine complex and diverse
Upuses The most prominent among these were powerful aristocrats or in
home way associated with the court: the poet. polemicist, and Protestant
martyr Anne Askew, daughter of an old Lincolnshire family who shared her
spiritual convictions with her friend and asociate Katherine Pair, the wife
of Heary Vill: Elizabeth I, the charismatic queen after whom the English
Henivance is named the "Elizabethan period", Mary Sidney Herbert,

unnamed (17).jpg

money which ed landing ellajal
chip la deviant
Benchun touts Dame I leares, whoer father and birchand served the rope
Indy ionalard's thirteenth century French commentary on the Psalm
and me French rullection of pavers and pardirations Lady Margin,
The muller of I lowry VIT and grandmother of Henry VIll, rendered ina
English book f' of the famous Innation of Chorus, a spiritual guide attributed
I'm onbrod philosopher Thomas a Kempis (1480-147 1), along witha
thionly kidry
plain work sided The Mirrorof Gold Ini didition, we know that a numberof
oder wellborn medical women were sufficiently literate to read and write
lauren, some of which are included in the cache of fifteenth century docu.
parts were
ments, now known as the Paston Letters, that originally belonged toa family
Thane sur
of Norfolk gentry. It has been speculated, moreover, that many anonymous
modined tests were withored by wonton who chose not to sign their works
"Anon_. san alien a woman, proclaimed Virginia Woolf in 1929, asshe
invasion of
muend on the rich horde of ballads and tales whose creators have never been
and the In
Identified. But even some spiritual meditations-such as the early fifteenth-
French t's
cratiny vision of the afterlife known as "A Revelation Showed tom Holy
England
Woman -appear to have had female authors whose names have not been
written hi
of French
When the Renaissance brought a newly secular interest in art and learning
imajor wor
in England, Increasing numbers of literary women took up their pens to write
either for private circulation in aristocratic circles or, less often, for publi
cation, The contemporaries of our Renaissance writers included wuch Figure
chronicle
as the polemicil Jane Anger (FL. 1589) and such moralists as Elisabeth Gry-
In partici
meson fea. 1563 1603) and Elizabeth Jocelin (1595-1622). Yet even in
Margery.
this more liberal period, the situation of most women was not conducive to
But she
creativity. In the words of the scholar Elaine Beilin, the flegal, theological
by the th
and familial subjugateon of Renaissance women had "an inhibiting effect
whichy o
on women writers. "As in the Middle Ages, most lived severely privele lives
aware lu
In which, confined to the home-whether farm, castle, or convent-and
allegiant
constrained by cultural definitions of femininity, they had neither the cup
with the
rience of public Me nor the expectation of an audience that would foster
In addit
composition, An in the Middle Ages, too, It is likely that a number of the
Woman
works women did produce were not thought worth saving, while others have
central

unnamed (18).jpg

Hiand Cahnhe
. ning if Mary
in that conteme
her Maumee in our
indeed in special
Fubella Whitney
na feminin sun
mierl hirth along
in Rachel Sprylid
Ining We kim
ftranslations of
moved the myal
and wualibey potre manal many Elizahulen intellectuals, an was her nicons
on the Psalm
Mary Wroth Isabella Whitney and Lbrabeth Cary were aning the very lima
h Margaret
Englishcommon to attempt compontion in the geruncool hyra poetry and verse
rendered inen
tragedy, which had hours been rachusingly immu uline preserves, and some
ide attributed
wholars speculate that Armilla Langer may actually have been the ilata-
ching with a
tunisly independent "dark lady" of Shakespeare's sonnets Alypical in with
a minber al
edicion and intellectual aushiny, these worch responded to spiritual
ad and write
warmorrun and historical events about which most of their female country.
antiry docu
wats were at least publicly, silent
d to a family
"Those seventy included a series of major political upheavals, a set of draule
social changes and a dramatic niecesion of cultural transformations
their works
A mg the loves slumping early English history had been the Rich cemary
imanion of the country by the Gremanis tribes of the Angles, the Sawom,
never been
and the Jutr us well as the eleventh-century conquest of the bland by
fifteenth-
French (Norman) invaders. an event that brought Marie de France in
To a Holy
England. The Anglo-Sixon language in which the heroic saga fromrulf is
written had metamorphosed, because of the Norman conquest, into a range
anot bren
of French influenced dulecis called Middle English, dialects in which such
major works as Sir Grain and the Green Knight, Plen Plou man, and The
Learning
Caterbury Tale were composed. As English evohed, moreover, it became
in over more viable alternative to the Latin that had long been used by
chirollers, theologians, and poets in signify the seriousness of their work
In particular, it became a language in which women such as Julian and
rth Gne
Margery, who would probably never have studied Latin, could record their
Even in
visions and lives
But the lives that these women recorded mun who have been determined
logical
by the shift from an essentially tribal Anglo Saxon culture to a hierarchical
effect
society organized around a so-called feudal system in which serfs (peasants)
wore loyalty to vassals ( knights and landowners , who, in mom, pledged their
and
illechance to great lords, as well as by the slow disintegration of that western
CAJK
with the rise to power of a literate, mercantile, town dwelling middle class.
Faster
In addition, the lives of Julian and Margery fun well as the career of the
if the
woman kaman an Juliana Berner) must have been marked by the cultural
hine
centrality of the Roman Catholic Church, which Increasingly dominated

unnamed (19).jpg

temporaries
prose room
himmis moment in Chouish binny a moment
uncle, Sir F
alienated in
Inchild hepp ners intohed merucial pijamc a sial and cultural events.
ing the kin
Ihired Widen Ing and wa Jupad by wich ments but shaped them
that male
unged in
dauntingly
included h
intellectun
comparabl
Monthartur Ward ife foes is fick ett the pret homes of York and
wa ruch nike " a hanke for the thropel, had begun to be
Joman T
anfind ha ran Tike monarchs, Henn Vil and Henry Vill. The most may
had to cim
notic of the Tushar money Elizabeth completed the tramformation of what
Into a sin
Ledhim a a poolugly fragmented feudal society Into a centralized
literary m
Balloon sion dominated by a single royal court. It was they conn that facili
of their as
word Foran production throughout the English Benadsuinge, and not
there wa
Buignite willy Ali bidmy Herbert, Armilla Langer, and Mary Wruth were
mirror th
members of minneshed county circles Wroth was Herbert's nices, and
WETE MTIL
Lanodedand her pornis to Herbert fan well as to other amincrisp, while
Herbert dedicated hers jo Elizabeth
musin po
Hint theme mes en were not juu umochafrd with the centralized authority
act again
the court. Like Cary, they were sho learned ladies who had the ran good
fortune to be educated in the lashing recommended by the new movement
that seek
called humanism chat is, they had studied the classics and had been trained
feminini
in the intricacies of Bonaissance rhetoric and logic. Elaborately paradoxical
describe
unfitically main, and ingeniously allusive, their were embodies the human.
when M
int passion for polemical skill and classical kemledge that win imported to
women
Endand from italy during the sisternth century by such thinkers as Sir Thus
CanAUTO
Boo More, the English author of Utopia (15 to), and Desiderius Erasmus,
and glo
her Dutch bom author of In Praise of Folly ( 1 509). The lives of these women
also coincided with the secularization of culture brought almout by human-
tom's renaud of interest in the pre-Christian classics of Greece and Home,
In the ineresting substation of the vernacular for churchly Latin, by the
M
growing literacy of the non-Latin-speaking middle class. by the new nation-
album of the aristocracy, and by the Reformation's questioning of papal
"By Go
June, As the English (Anglican Church separated itself, on the one hand,
Cunter
from the Home dominated international hierarchy of Roman Catholicism
and, on the other hand, from the German and Swiss Protestantism estab-
lished his Lacher and Chin, it developed a distinctive national identity, with
the English monarch replacing the pope an a central earthly symbol of sacred
authority. This phenomenon, along with the rise of modern English and the
dramatic strength of the queen, cuminbuted to un extraordinary cultural
Afflict
vitalin that eyteased itself in the exuberant energy of Elizabethan literature.
thitent
an ming that manifests itself in the words and works of all the Renamince
women discussed shove
Ing to
in Sal
Tullian
time

unnamed (20).jpg

whinnie authors
winby Sir Philip Slug, Pal lorcrane Languis, chile Clary daringly inscribed
un shaped them
while English of
single national
played in the theater, and pollolied in critical me lan braylon thin
dauntingly great age of English his one, And phlaughs and the callies
divided by the
held here ramably Mary Herlion and Mary Wench momvid in sisthings
ers of bork and
Intellectual wiredes, few can be wald is have bechanged to literary communities
l begun to be
comparable to the booich capsized group of male miner who supported
The most mag
nation of what
Jonson, That in representing the carlical writings of English women se him
i ernicalled
had to conflate the Old English ara, the Muddle Ages, and the Benahouse
in that facili.
Inin a single "early period is simply the mon dramatic up ad wo n't
Dee, and now
literary marginality in the years from 200 in 1600. Perhaps further evidence
Wroth were
of adsris arathetic dilemma is revealed in the thenice and dreams recorded In
these women who did manage to write For while the works of thesy artists
nicec, and
mirror the burying spirits of their ages. they are aden po maller when they
irish. while
acre written frequenth and duire tively concerned with the problen ient
athin poond for women, and they may therefore from allonymcrane when
ed authority
set against the texts of rule contemporaries Haimted In the images of
ie rare good
women that men had conureacted for them, these writen created a tradition
that seeks either to redefine or to resign waelf to male preconceptions alert
cen trained
femininity. Specifically, In the years from the 1370%, when Julian began to
wradovicaly
describe her revelation of divine love in the Book of Shorings, to the 1 590
he human-
when Mary Sidney Herben underlink to translate the P'ualmy into English.
imparted to
wemien had to confront the misogyny of male theologfine who sought in
is Sir The
censure and silence them as well as an ideal of courtly love that Jamorisel
Erasmins.
and glorified them in ways that were sometimes problematic.
human-
MEDIEVAL AND RENAISSANCE IMAGES OF WOMEN
nud Home,
n, by the
"By God," exclaimed Chaucer's Wife of Bath In a famous passage from The
v nation
Canterbury Tales,
of papal
ir hand
If wommen hadden writen stories.
holicism
As clerkes han within hir ormorigs
They wolde han writen of men more wilkednesse
Than al the merk of Adam may redrose.
BY, With
sacred
Afflicted by the book of "wikked wives from which her filth husband per-
and the
silently read to her every evening, the lively female characun was mepond
uilrural
ing to the tradition of misogyny that cuended from carly church father wich
ralures
us Saints Paul and Jerome to later theologians such as Augustine and Ter-
isance
tullian, it was, Indeed, a tradition that would reach beyond her author's life-
time Into the antifemale diatribes of the Mallens Alale Scariom (Hammer of

unnamed (21).jpg

much you
Mothapro did headarieres Chumsa in Lode und Spenser's
Whorim Hiki a Dime
let tampon began ud bar in William
chrations
Fury mu
of what
macrcil m
ad Gain Pendu der can but one simmun and the had nunti until she
fid promoted to build of her hand and from the garden of delights and in
much mog Curled in the iommu of ihf cream. " About unman's biological
elmwood, if tires of the firm coming c.z. Homin scholar Fling the Elder
Other
an dilled him f heading tome bronze and brun are at once seized by rust,
lyric th
mul a horrible anold fills the for. Nor were such times unique to the partic-
iristung
ular traditions out of which these three thinkers wrote. Anglo Saxon culture,
alich pobird Chartmin in England, wins oblivious of or hostile to
never
more blood one of the few hike from this period that scholars have
Implic
in miamirey attributed to a unman _ piece called "The Wife's Lament" (ca,
might
Who/-begins with an impair aned complaint "I make this song sadly about
myself, /about my Wife. I a woman say / I've been unhappy since I grew up"
Itrelacion by Willis Banne and Elene Kelli, In Beaway, the age's major
ple marcoint. worten am objects of exchange, servants to men, monsters,
i makers of monster. Similarly, the Greek philosopher Aristotle had
argued la the Fourth century s.c.r. that woman is a "deformity of nature."
That pre-Christian definition, taken together with the Bible's excoriation of
Ever, Informed the work of such major medicval thinkers as St. Augustine
and M. Thomas Aquinas, both of whom believed that women were physically
and spiritually inferker to men.
What
Jur while Eve, the primordial female, was viewed as both secondary ferc-
ated from Adam's ribl and destructive fa temptress who condemned human-
Mar
try to death and degradation), she did have a positive counterpart the mother
of al
of Christ, the Virgin Mary, who redeemed the world with the fruit of her
wnub. It might seem, then. that even though ambitious women were
oppressed by what we now call "negative role model," they could gain
hea
strength from the sacred cumple of Mary, From the twelfth century to about
T
the fifteenth, Mariolarry the cult of the Virgin--swept Europe. As one his
Fire
Burton has observed, "her miracles were on every lip" and "provided the stock
themes for miracle plays, "the festival dramas in which modern English the
Qu
ater had its origins. Indeed, in England, worship of the Blessed Mother seems
en
Pra

unnamed (22).jpg

a much Printers,
Kale in William
much rain may
Appubar Make Bagh hme summarized the pedrolbally feminin theydy
mi an Intrini
of buthas lon called the Torunne fail," the klos put the calamity
haghi about by Live's rebellion had to the modemprion panned by Alary's
abury phils.
Cor, the first
Be hardde the appd bie ben
F all human
The appil intra ben
cat untilshe
A been horne's quene
ghts and in
leased he the time
biological
That appeal take was
the Elder
Therefore me moin singen
iner, crops
im of four
Other poems celebrated the paradox of Mary's madeily motherhood. The
hris that begins "I sing of a maiden / That is makeless" Imatchlessly foe
the partic
instance, alfirms that "onaler and maiden / Was nevere noam but when / Wel
may watch a lady / Codes mader be" (mincher and malden le , nagin was
never none but the well may such a lady God's mother bel, Such Tests
lan have
implied that far from being man's inferior. woman, made in Mary 's image
might be his superior. As one medieval thenlogin argued.
thy about
grew up
Woman is to be preferred to man, to wh in material. Adams made From
clay and Eve from side of Adam in place. Adam made matside paradise
onsters.
and Eve wing in conception a woman conceived God which a man dul
the had
not do: In apparition Christ appeared to a woman after the Bevrection,
nature."
to wit the Magdalene: in exuhation a wontan is exalted above the choirs
ition of
of angels, to wit the Blessed Mary. St. Bernadine even declares that "It
justine
is a great grace to be a woman more women am saved than men!"
ically
What is most nideworth here is that Mary's grace sanctifies all women, even
in ostensibly Fallen one wich as Christ's disciple the reformed prostitute
Mary Magdalene. This, though Mary herself may have been unique alone
of all her sex,"as the title of Marina Warner's useful study of Mariolatry has
other
it even ordinary women are not to be excluded from the queendom of
f her
heaven that she miles
The implications of such a vindication of the female were far reaching,
quin
First, they put in question the presuppositions of antifemale clerics and insti-
paled a dialogue between misogynists like the author of the sardonic French
Quince joins de mariage (The Fifteen Joy of Marriage, 1480-90) and defend-
luck
of women like the Chaucer of The Legend of Good Women, a long poem
the
praising female virtue. Second, they even transformed some of the philo
em's
sophical foundations of Western literature. From Plato on, the European

unnamed (23).jpg

ha plans and mine's wich rim
pen in her
mugs, the Le
win she slip
Worse Frill
destruction a
Marly, Use me
he loved hoodies if this ination, which four
ile flow mus the Ed poplar duke wah urinal bar, the creation of
In medieval
band play in te Vos Newt, Itune in an parikh angel in the Herman
GM de mer my chinathe of the brined lal, is an emblem of
Moment perfection. For all these poets, and for the knights who followed
by telling t
thedahik niles at bay on a the phoner of the noted medical historian
aged crone
Im Pairs Truddued" for the lines served his lady as humbly as the
transformis
Though
Food ringi's Dominance, aten medieval feudalism had begun to dis
reveal its b
Integrity, the commihome of courtly bowe persisted in lierature, if not in life.
another E
So Philip Sthey's prone mamathe Arcadia, for Instance, recounts the
in more id knight and fadies in a pastoral cesim abeer the in of love
romance
impmornin an arabheck aical, while his sonnet sequence barephil and stella
134) ophome the pal loper's frelings for his mistress on the assumption
olding
that such passionate emotions toward a beloved woman were the most appro-
priate subject for bric poetry. Influenced by the highh wylined modes and
for men
aberatch romantic theme of Fetrainchanium."a literary movement that
wife beat
began in look with Petrarch and was brought to England by Sir Thomas
The Cler
What, Sidney was only one of the many major Renaissance poets who pro-
Patient
dured wich mann cycles meditating on the rapeare and torment of man's
that wa
bee for women. Others included Edmund Spenser (Amoredri, 1595), Samuel
a tygrey
Daniel Delia, 1593). and Shakespeare (Sonnets, 1609). In the same jean
when there writers were composing their celebratory sonnets, moreover.
Sporeit's The Fore Curene offered images of pure and powerful heroines
Miller's
such as Una, Gloriana, and Britomart. And throughout this period, poets
wife an
regularly proclaimed their aesthetic indebtedness to the female divinities
they are
knoin an mum, find celebrated as source of inspiration by the Greek and
wife as
Roman unders is hom many Renaissance poets strove to emulate.
Ennobling and empowering an the thework of Marinlatry, the rhymes of
Ing the
courthy love, the wants of Priorchanism, the allegorical figures of Spenser,
In i
and the concept of female mines might seem to have been for women, how.
cover
ever, they all retained traces of the very misogyny they would appear to have
treatn
lyrics,
writin

unnamed (24).jpg

memore room but do" the rachly samen ridd p him nich paninital
The Laund, ulm
and me secular
al worship For It's muni pan, du herself has pounded on colorvilair har
was the phen portraised in supplied invite bands of bernie dends that
had begun in
spread rapally
minion as mumaires and aliche fant beautiful lusby them romances hine,
I court and to
but he a curse tens. In the medical tale of Sir torain mad the Green eight
ed son birm
five Trouponce, ilee here is weird by a tempterms whose wiles threaten his
la Hour The
dounction and w hose charms forte him to confront his own minutelit, sim
mir's La Via
flagly, the medieval Tenian documents Tristan's death of the harsh of a false
an, which for
Inkde even while it dramamines the bags of the Cave al Lover, and Sh Thomas
e creation of
Malory's Florenth-armory Archiman cycle preserves the gearures ul chivalry
of Love is a
but ales traces the way it's buintegration of the Round Table is brough
n the Homan
shout by Queen Guinevere's faithleones Warlies and bad bullies abound
n emblem of
in medieval literature, and they are almost clagg awequated with female
newally, amsection, and creativity. No wonder, then, his Chaucer has his
bray, assertive, and creathe Wife of Bath praise and reverse this association
val historian
by telling the sion of a knight who ha tricked into woulding and bedding on
imbly as the
aged come and is rewarded for relinquishing his curhotly in her when she
tramforms herself into a beautiful lady.
cgun to dis
Though Chaucer's Wife of Hath's Tale parodies the courtly mmunce to
I not in life.
reveal its underhing misogyny, the Wife of Bath benielf Hal character our al
counts the
another genre. which dwelled mom frankly on the defects of anmen the
art of lone
fablain: In Fact, this genre mikes exploit the misery in Implicit in the courtly
I and Stella
romance. Realistic and comic, Eddiaus were folktales addressed to a hair-
pools andience. Their plots generally turned on the machinations of ruck
issumption
okling wives and cunning maids, while the resolutions they recommended
most uppro
for men who wanted to tame such shrews ranged from public humiliation to
modes and
wife beating. At the same time. as Chaucer himself suggests in his emal to
ment that
The Clerks Tale, which told the story of a famously submissive hermine called
r Thomas
Patient Griselda, some writers implied, perhaps imisically and perhaps not
who pro
that women could avoid Griselda's fundships only by becoming sarge The
of man's
a tyare youd in Ynade and, as one translation puts it, "clatinfing) like a mill
J. Samuel
-to bear the male." Enormously popular throughout the Middle Ages
fabliaus formed the basis of a number of Chaucer vinalives, including The
noreiner
Minder : Tale and The Non's Priest's Tale, the first a story of a faithless young
heroines
wife and the second a tale of a henpecked moster Good humored though
ad, ports
they are- in each case the storyteller clearly Tech as much sympathy free the
wife as for the husband-these tales deflate rosummit ideals of love by depict.
week and
ing the female as fleshly, shrewd, earthbound.
In the same way that medieval genres which seemed to praise women
convertly Implied critiques of femininity and were accompanied by franker
treatments of the battle of the seves in the fabliar, so tre Renaisance spicy,
lyrics, and dramas castigated as well as crichrated key female figures. These
writings wages that below the surface of even the most honorife language
to have

unnamed (25).jpg

the rule al pai
the hivingian
Father Er ling
forbade diven
al property.
usually reach
it"-that my falerly and foolishly
were no long
ing to the k
withme, elle atgood did a Cordelia in King
age's in order
Gown and Ihope in King Lear, Of courer, Shakespeare's dry-
they could
eachoctoroomibooger pico if villainous male characters lago in Orh-
husbands.
Hon Edsend in King Lear, and in on, But, again, the evil of such
A nimbe
money will hold with warped meand muahly, By contrast,
poort to e
sooo muchas Lady Macbeth, Conmi, and Began are marked by monstrous
In le andthree or grotesque credit energy, Lady Macbeth's penenity in
any food al one point to her pha Come. . sumses me here and a
ally untutu
derby bor aidminion that If she had sworn to do so. she would have
tutors of th
"Plurind has nipple from her child's boneless gums / And dashed litsl
had been in
Print out /Similarb, thy voracious lust for power and the sexual insatiabley
works. And
w/ Conrail and Began an dramatized nut only through their treatment of
the agod father but also in their credit Intrigues with the bastard Edmund,
their lands
Indeed, about in his madness the dispossessed king Lear proclaims that
clothing, a
Than from the waist"even dainty ladies are "Centaur, / Though women
their men
all when / Hut in the girdle do the Gods inherit / Beneath is all the fiend's."
Inasiness.
In apparently insane magyar seems ultimately sane in light of his two older
When a
drughire whrinusme What clarifies the assumptions about the proper rela-
holdings.
mon between the wears that there plays dramatized, moreover, is that even
to enter th
tactich s donotious characters such as Viola in Twelfth Night and Ros
the Late m
alled in As You Like is 1 600) mus ultimately be stripped of their indepen
Fifteenth-c
dence and brought to acquirace in a husband's power. All's well that ends
the legal,
well Slubeaprare declared, but to "end well" a woman must, like Viola,
Similarly,
become bet lord's "andstress and his fancy's queen."
looking of
Helds, and
From the
MEDIEVAL AND RENAISSANCE WOMEN'S LIVES
erws Inde
engaged
Did Shakespeare's plays reflect the reality of Renaissance women's lives? Did
and vold
courtly romances inderor the lives of aristocratic medieval ladies, and did
and cities
fabliaus tell the truth about ordinary women in the Middle Ages? By all
Industrie
and bakh

unnamed (26).jpg

forof villain animal
turadically astin faired
his attention in his
I concedes that has
plied to many ofhey
aferly and foolishly
mually marion! a third part of her husband's esfair, and in 1219 King John
us and lingling
: Cordelia in Aing
Is the ling. whale, for their daughien continued to is ved an early
ing in in due to ensure the intepin, of important mute . und corn pown
Shakespeare's dry
women could to me arily marine off, spainat their gun wishes, unlen
tens lago in Oil
they could purchase from their feudal lands the right in choose their mun
the eall of such
husbambi
lity. By contrust.
A number of great Likes did booster, have the perer of patimage, a
ted by monstrous
purr to elevate poon and brights through financial as well im personal
th's penversity in
encure ment, Iemu the eleventh center on, arioperatic womencommits
he here? and at
cloned illuminated manuscripts for their own moms, llecause they wor bus
she would ham
ally unturnred in Latin chemoches and breause they arm often the primary
and dashed [its)
turoes of the next generation, by the end of the Middle Age such anmoral
cial Insalishilsy
had been influential in promoting vernacular transhiring of Latin religious
ir treatment of
works. As daughters, wives, and mothers, medieval ladies also helped puand
ward Edmund
their lands manors, regularly organizing almagoing. hunchold budgets.
clothing, and food for large families and minues of servants and run, when
proclaims that
their men were away, supervising form ulfairs, Iaustins, and other estate
hough women
business
all the fiend's
When a family like the Pastone in Norfolk, mise by acquiring large lands
of his two older
holdings, their sons were sent in Eton and Oxford and sometimes educated
he proper mel
to enter the Ions of Court, while their daughters remained at home, Yet, da
T, is that even
the late medieval family documents called the Payton Letters reveal, their
ight and Has
Fffrench-century wives and daughters actively concerned themselves with
heir indepen
the legal, educational, and moral welfare of their husbands and brothers.
ell that ends
Similarly, the wives of middle-class English farmers were responsible for
I, like Viola
looking after their husbands' sock. making butter and cheese. helping in the
fields, and producing cloth for the family from the wool of their own sheen.
From the evidence of manorial court records, it wraho clear that many wide
nis independently faried the holdings of their deceased hishands and
ES
engaged in luigation on their own behalf. Moreover, country women brownd
and sold ale at a profit, while bourgeois and working clue women in towm
and cities earned considerable sums of money from two when major home
hi and did
industries-textiles topinning and weaving) and food production tbrewing
test By all
and hikingh when and socalled fewer sale (widows and unmarried women)

unnamed (27).jpg

win The lid
For Instance, d
In works like I
leben chubai's workin den girl was approinked at an carly ayn
nus did, like
china plan rumibally a business mint, the love of both wormen
convent, but
andband would it rorami mirin In ahlition, then
ad that figure
home with died by the prideof a bildoing that begin early and coded
jewelry, man
Fidel ducked in be unmained and maintained at great physical cou to
Honed More
the woman Whore sull, the pose of both was frequently threatened by the
though biten
urri plus monon of witch huming, in sotivity shut became increasingly
ona bon hommeon the fourteenth and the severicenth centuries. The ratio
records and
won on to men sound of witchriah ranged from twenty to one in some
portal Lacopyto one hundred to one in other areas, Lake the Jow the which
sources to
on blamed for moul illa that, in the fourteenth censury, included the Black
Thath like lager) and the Hundred Years War between England and
France. Like the heartic, the was believed in worship strange gods, whose
mass would undermine the authority of the ritablished church. In this era.
The Mallra Melfourum, mentioned earlier, functioned with great efficiency
During the
an a handbook for much hunters. the scholars Barbara Ehrenreich and Deir-
either fries
dee Inelish have estimated that the total number of women tortured and
of married
record during the period may have climbed into the millions
might have
It is handy surprising. therefore, that a significant group of young women
Aristocratic
took refuge in the church. some simply turned to prayer or meditation, but
or fourth
chees entered convents, where they could educate themselves and tutor the
Middle-cla
dougMen of pralily furnilies, where they were safe from harassment, and
cian trade,
where their administrative as well as intellectual abilities were juven scope.
who belair
Medieval nunnerics were usually poorer as well as smaller in number and in
Although
population than monasteries. Their official business, especially record keep
entrusted
ing man frequently carried on by male chaplains who were better educated
then their female counterparts, Yet these institutions did serve is sanctuaries
ings, and
for the unmarried daughters of the nobility and even of the middle class A
To whom
Benedictine min like the German writer Hrowwitha could pursue a serious
literary career within the content, producing humans, Latin plays, and saints'
Law home
lives. Moreover, although by the fifteenth century the nunncries of England
that coul
were bring faulted for worklly Frivolity, and although must had imany case
In fact
never been in powerful as the monasteries, a few had long been hastions of
without
wrath. "If the Abbot of Glastonbury would marry the Abbess of Shaffer
women.
han, "observed our wit, their heir would have more land than the king of
cial setil
England " While to most coments such a statement would not apply, even
sured or
the piloted medieval nunneries clearly functioned as communities of
consoled
Screen, the

unnamed (28).jpg

in English anal
of Chairen Idied
mininleipand
er failser ina
both wumen
hand embed
miral coal in
ened by the
thomas mine as high chees lubpsicion than is meal teachers. Thus, corn
hemuch literary marks did summarize some bey contemporary visions of
The mile
women, social historian mou inevitably draw more information from gold
me in wine
crew and legal documents than they do from courtly romances and fab-
How No we will suggest. Renaissance scholars mul depend on similar
the Black
lines to supplement the images they find in plays. prose romances, unil
land and
this era,
Diciency
During the Henaissance, women in England continued in be defined as
nd Deir
either frans mis (unmarried or widowed manen) by femremind friend
ared and
I married womenk Some of those who belonged to the first of these groups
might have -as they had had in the Middle Ages consideraldr freedom.
Arlocrane widows could manage their own property. choose second, third
or fourth husbands; and handle marriage senkements for the mules
on, bar
Middle class widows could evablich businesses, join guilds, enter inin for-
Hor the
rign trade. and even, in some cases, we or be sued. Similarly, some of their
not, and
who belonged to the second group were alm surprisingly independent
scope.
Although as femmes covert they had practically no legal rights, they were ulien
and in
entrusted In their husbands with major responsibilities. As in the Middle
keep
Apea, aristocratic whe's supervised great estates, inchiding large findhold
ings, and frequently functioned almost as the business partner of the men
I whom they were married. Similarly, middle ches when-like medieval
bourgeoises-often shared in their husbands mercantile enterperher or over
saw hinene industries (spinning, weaving, silk making, bookhinding, brewing)
that could be quite remunerative
land
In fact, the only Renaissance women who may be said to have been entirely
without legal, economic, or social power of any kind were young married
wonten, ropecially girls from wealthy families, who might bring large firms
cial settlements to their future husbands. These girls were frequently pres
wired or forced by their parents to enter into marriages of convenience to
consolidate important estates. Worse still, if they had any property of their
own, they were sometimes subject to abduction by unscrupulous adventurers

unnamed (29).jpg

the virgin
definition Lam
inf male louis
mich female
has pointedn
of the Jacohi
Manile Thal mous and the mal woman Inlord visiting England in
IN Potent ate if Winrahere saidy docland that 'Lapland is s
which From
Painin In as on, a prison for sermons, and a hell or purgatory for
Thingthis ly his female must be sumidened hyperbolic, he and a few
a muahly the Prejean reformer John Know
author of The Fire Mad of the Treepel apodug the Momin Herimet of
Where (1858-thought the British Ides had "unnaturally" succumbed to
if mode ("meetour If munen because England and Scotland were goss
Despite the
erial In yucca i shiina Mary Tinfor, Mary Stuart, and Elizabeth I, and
eval and He
because a few great ladies had consideralde poarr in courtly circles
with a core
Neverthricia the morrege woman very likely did not feel that she lived in
women in
Burnline. " Is is drive that after 1500 a surprising number of atfalacratic
of perhaps
women bergin, for the first time, to reorive the same kind of education in
(1364 143
this clancy's that their brothers did, the unprecedented training in Greek and
Ladies, 14
Larks that nurled ibe upbringing of such women as Elisabeth I. Mary Sidney
which who
Herbert, and Bugbeth Cary was a sisong positive consequence of the
from all ap
Minaniat bir Thomas More's liga that both sexes were "equally suited For
Particip
the bondedge of learning by which reason is cultivated " But most girls,
him the very well born, received little education, In addition, although many
Addle class women d'd undertake in carry on their own businesses, histo
rian have demonstrated that in the years between 1485 and 1500 the num-
ben d ouch women declined drastically. Evidently, the rise of an increasingly
on wome
ambitious group of male entrepreneur institutionalized and professionalized
toward th
work that had previously gone on somewhat informally, so that Renaissance
Besides
men tended to take over guilds and industries where medieval women had
the achin
earlier dominated or at least participated on an equal ban.
books an
de should finally be noted that the power wielded by frees covert who joined
letters t
with their husbands in the supervision of estates or businesses depended on
writing
the goodwill of the husbands. If a husband was brutal, oppressive, or merely
treatise
indifferent, his wife had no k cal recourse, because she had no rights of her
ertheles
own. Thus though plays like Shakespeare's The Timing of the Shrew or
female
Fueleh Night may subcly misrepresent the reality of mou women's live-
as Julia
the firm ceaserrating the Renaissance ideology of male dominance and the
Mary S
orchid glamorizing a portrait of female independence followed by an even
Chris
mike roninth shion of female surrender-both contain at least a modicum
the de
not truch Because marriage was a woman's principal goal and the role of wife
worldly
her priming role. she must always with the unique exception of Elizabeth.
the En
literary

unnamed (30).jpg

inlion talkneed thenigh they might lose been, inong became iranlaine
splinter Panel
them in much
he came water
my England in
"England is a
purgatory foe
distressed, Laid Mary whiledrew the
like masten.
he and a few
dainna was in which a female literary currer could be discouraged in
F John kam
deformed.
uccumbed in
MEDIEVAL AND RENAISSANCE WOMEN WHITERS
nd were go
abeth , and
Despite the sewer of secondarifires that had been imfilled in to manyred
roles
real and Hershaanice women, a yearning for a female community, together
she lived in
with a corollary vision of female power, informed much of the literature by
aristocratic
women in this period, Such a yearning for instance, characterized the work
ducation in
of perhaps the most prominent early European fentinise, Christine the Plan
i Greek and
(1364 1429), whose Le Live de la City dis Damm | The Book of the Cin of
Mary Sidney
Ladies, 1405) offered an unprecedented dream vision of a female utopia in
nce of the
which what Renaissance thinken called "Women Worthles"-prat women
y suited for
freen all ages and nations-we're gathered to prove the worthiness of women.
Participating In an early version of the French debate iner femininity that
was termed the Querelle des Fromme iquarrel about women), Christine
ough many
assumed equality with male thinkers to contest Jean de Meun's misogynistic
uses, hiun-
continuation (1269--78) of Guillaume de Loris's Honein de La Hour, a satire
the num-
on women's wiles in which Jean scuthingly repudiated the courtly humility
creasingly
toward the female Rose that was cultivated by his predecessor, Guillaume
Besides producing her fervent affirmation not just of the rights but also of
naissance
the achievements of women, the widowed Christine wrote a number of other
omen had
hooks and became, as a French scholar has noted. the lim female "man of
letter to support herself (along with three children), by her pen, Yet like the
ho joined
writing of in many medieval and Renaissance women, her major feminist
ended on
frealise was out of print from the sixteenth century to the turnleth, New
or mrich
ertheless, despite its king neglect, The Cin of Ladies summarized a vision of
trol has
fenule power that would also be recorded in various ways In wich mystics
as Julian of Norwich and Margery Kempe and wich secular gentlesemen is
Mary Sidney Herbert and Aemilia Langer.
arid the
Christine had Continental counterparts and descendants in, for instance.
the deviat Italian poet Vittoria Colonna (1490/02-15471 and the more
worldly French sonneteer Louise Labe (1524-1560), But neither they not
edicum
the Englishmomen represented here can be said to have had professional
literary careers comparable to hers. Whether they were cloistered like Julian
irabeth

unnamed (31).jpg

dream. wah Libel
Man simply most"
Ar Don of dues main
There is Foe induring Eve's penchant for rebellion, were determine
And the proel phod al
moreas paved the and women would not participate in if
mu lan" while the in
remains a ride
This much is khican
Among thre Englishnumen cubiased Julian nodclined Ches
Burns in Latin and En
make Tiny mani the ruins of montage to baberate herself from
blood and brooding a
uddin did the Herbert compared Ceren Bluabeth to God, Ley
Angle Nor in, Some
all the man of for to can Care and Wrath daud to work in peter
maltotally meisterd with the male imagination, while with injure
1 1$1-himself the 1
peace Whiner wing To qua shed the entire city of London to los
therefore ala sinn of
Jarredman, Miniloh, Aboubunch leak her man life story so seriously the
The became an humane gutsbiographer, and Specht daringly entered ing
the, And Inc many yra
Norman dealvet in Lu
ad bay wih hee moogmark Meliszones, "when she reviled as a "foud
Fantastic ruinitmphe.
mouled herin zung Firises."As for Queen Elizabeth herself, she po
add i piradioon id female replay for all her contemporaries, and in her
Like her compatriot
can weran, qume though it mas, the vaunted and Haunted her power, them
mingle "poll the tops" leut off the braids) of those who vexed her.
enigmatic Marie prod
To be mire, all these women were citmordinary and extraordinarily be
nuarnouruled the magh
Funate a point day themaches generally understood, for most of thet
knights Her lan wen
female cundemporirigs had brither a medieval flowering nor a renahuang
IF Shakespeare in is the common man transformed into Western culture's
and heouines in revis
are at conflicted unil
most uncommon genna, he had no woman counterpart drawn, as he um
economy, the sphere
from the intellectually ambitious, aspiring middle class. In 1929. Virgin
render ingbles that
Will rodd wo why. Hod Shakespeare had a "wonderfully gifted sister,"she
brated, sometimes
riptuned in / Room of One's Cru, the girl would have been given nomde
land ultimate irony
cation her parrots would have forced her to do dull domestic chores
Mer-December ma
tried to make her man young she would have run away to London, orby
background
be seduced and abandoned by a predatory theatrical entrepreneur, final
Our translations
she would have died a suicide, though the birds that sang in the hedgym
Dorothy Gilbert, wl
nut mure musical than the was fand she had the quickest fancy, a gift bir
Norman

unnamed (32).jpg

her hither's, for the tours of maude " the his the find uncon huihed pear
buted to the
Astory wih Arminia Limper then This paulie Dreya his tinted of the wee
Fileperudent
Was simply mint and then hour in deram, = Lather fit hiel woman
theer of the
Lonlon.
me English
he connid
MARIE DE FRANCE
hey them
find that
formined
He in the
France Yet though Marie appear in More
period
in "live" while also translating and refminer
crorum
This much to known born in Not uindy you molding foot day years In England,
on her
liberal and breeding who wrote her influential mists in the likeet now koran in
Langer
Anglo- Nummian. Some scholars, indeed, line yucolined that Maru was the powerful
thei of Shafie bury, who'w's the illegitimate daughter of Geoffrey of Ankrillly
1 1503 himself the founder of the Plantagenet dinny of Engihh kings- and
To her
therefore idio shier of England's Heary IL In any case, whatever her peacelogy. this
hy that
Inveterious muneer ferrator al romances) was cubusand, authoritative, imagina
the. And for mam yean, apparently, she lived in England,where she and the Angle
d into
Norman dialect to crampoor much loved, highly poplar tales of courtly love and
Foul-
Fantastic catastrophe. tales that were witch mad, icited, and Imitated throughand
her era.
Like her campained and contemporary, the famous French pool Chretien de Troyes
real
enigmatic Marty produced verified accounts of the enchantments and anxieties that
For
airrounded the magical yut troubled count of Arthair, Guinevery, and their fabled
hair
knights, Her dad were probably transmitted arally rather than thanugh written mun
uscripts, yet such Immunession hardly diminished they popularin, Exploring hemies
and hennings in Tevisionary depth, Marie shows that must of hier romance characters
on an confikted his they are courthy the depicts, with whit me critic calls "wartling
economy," also splendors of the fantastic realin of Arthurian elalvalry, along with the
Fender troubles that beser the genre in which such splendors were sometime cake
Prided sometimes tiriend. In Biulauret,"For instance, the dramatizes the wins
land ultimate triumphs) of a werewolf, while in "Youre " the sets the temkins of a
bur Agroumi
Man December marriage against a richh Inured last problematic fairy tale
Dur translations and annotthin here have been prepared by the schols and post
Doruthy Gilbert, whose verse capture the vene and wit of Marie's original Ando

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