The Status of Women During Renaissance
The attitude towards women, their treatment and their rights, underwent many changes during the Renaissance. During feudal times women were given more liberties and enjoyed freedoms. They could own land and had many of the rights men had. However, this period where so many great changes had been made in the church, in literature, and in all other artistic areas, women took a big step backward in their fight for equality.
Women were thought of as property, owned first by their fathers, and then their husbands. This is only true, however, for the upperclass. Commoners during this time were not affected by the new social reforms
. Lower class women still could own properties and shared many responsibilities with their husbands. They helped on the fields and in business matters. The upperclass dealt with the bourgeous double standard. This idea was formed from the novel The Courtier, written by Castiglione.
He believed that women should
be learned, have had a fine education, be able to hold appropriate conversations with anyone, but still be loyal and submissive to their husbands. Women were to be bound to chastity until their wedding night. They were to always remain faithful, even though their husbands were urged to have relations outside of marriage.
Some upperclass women had the advantage of recieving an education. However, they were forced to give up their studies once married. A women's first priority was to be a good wife and to please her husband. The thoughts and feelings of women in Renaissance
society were not expressed, they were not considered important. This is especially evident in the case of rape.
Many common women were raped. Most of the time it was noblemen who committed these crimes who either covered it up, went to prison for very short periods of time, or paid small fines. Theft was considered a worse crime than rape. An unmarried girl, a "virgin", raped was far worse than a married women. Such girls were considered "used property." A rape was only considered outrageous if it was the rape of a noblewoman.
As is obvious, the mind sets of the upperclass during the Renaissance were severely misplaced. Not only were the social standings of women lowered during this time of rebirth, but it was the noblewomen who were put down. It would seem more logical for the entire idea to be switched around. However, we cannot tell what exactly they thought during this time, we can only hope to learn from it. Women have come a long way in their fight for equality, but they still have such a long road ahead of them.