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Life for Medieval Women

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Medieval society was completely dominated by men, making a women’s life at the time difficult. Medieval law at the time stated that women could not marry without their parents consent, could not divorce their husbands, could not own property unless widows, could not inherit land if they had surviving brothers, and could own no business with special permission (Trueman, “Medieval Women”). When a woman married a man, he would get any property she owned and she would forfeit any rights she had to him. When the husband dies she would get one third of the land to live on and support herself. Unmarried women who owned land had the same rights as men (Hull). Whenever a woman got into trouble it would be her closest male relative who would appear in court, not the woman herself (Medieval).

Marriage

It was also common for richer families to marry off their daughters sooner than poorer families. This was because poorer families needed as much help doing work as they could. Women had no choice in deciding who they got married to, and once married they would be controlled by their husband (Trueman, “Medieval Women”).

Fashion

Young single women often wore their hair loose, but once married almost all medieval women wore a linen wimple (wrapup) to cover the hair. This was a sign of modesty. Other items worn by medieval women included hair pins, prayer beads, leather purses, woolen knee stockings, and leather shoes (Hull).

Mortality

Childbirth was the leading cause of death among young women. Approximately 20% of women died in childbirth because of poor medical care. Women who were poor had a lifespan of about 40 years (Trueman, “Medieval Women”). A caesarean section was normally only performed if the mother was dead or dying as it was in...

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...istcitizen/medieval/women2/medievalwomen.html>.

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Lambert, Tim. “EVERYDAY LIFE IN THE MIDDLE AGES.” localhistories.org. 2008. Web. 26 March 2011. .

Trueman, Chris. “A day in the life of a nun.” historylearningsite.co.uk. Web. 25 March 2011. .

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