The Status of Women 1625-88

  • Created by: Tori
  • Created on: 27-04-20 12:23
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  • The Status of Women
    • Background
      • 17th century Britain was very patriarchal and misogynist.
        • This was 'justified' by the bible and it's negative portrayals of women.
          • Eg. original sin of Eve.
          • Women in the early modern period were regarded as weak and open to temptation.
        • The proper role of women was to be married, looking after the home and children.
          • Also should be meek and submissive to their husbands.
        • Medical theories explained and justified the biblical view of women as inferior.
          • Argued that not only were they physically weaker than men, but their brains were different.
            • They were intellectually inferior and virtually incapable of being educated.
      • No significant change in the status of women in 1625-88.
        • In Stuart Englad women were excluded from education, professions and many aspects of society.
          • Women's roles were defined by their relationship to the men in their life.
    • Impact of Wealth on the Status of Women
      • Women at the to of society were in a better position than the majority of the population.
        • Women could have social, economic and political influence in line with their economic standing.
          • Eg, some of the wives of landowners acted as estate managers alongside their husbands.
          • Eg, some wives of farmers, labourers and craftsmen took a role in the family economy.
          • Despite this, there were limits to how they could use their influence.
            • Women couldn't hold any formal offices, through which the political class exercised control.
            • Despite the recent reign of Elizabeth I, and other notable strong female role models, women had to express their influence in less open political forms.
              • Lack of progress despite this strong female leader.
    • Impact of the revolutionary years 1640-60
      • The revolutionary years from 1640-60 provided the most opportunities for women to subvert the norms.
        • During Civil War, women contributed to the war effort, preached, prophesised and published.
        • However, although the Civil War created opportunities for women, the extent of the changeof women's roles should not be overstated.
      • The war effort
        • Some women took over the management of estates during their husand's absence as they fought in the civil war.
        • Women also became garrison commandsers when their housws were besigned.
        • In London, women worked on building fortifications and tended to the wounded.
      • Religion
        • After the breakdown of government control over religious practices in the 1640's, women were able to play a significant role in certain religious movements.
          • Eg, the levelers and the quakers believed that the crucifixion had spiritually redeemed women from their subjugation to men.
        • Civil War also witnessed an upsurge in female prophets.
          • Estimated there were 300 female prophets during the 1640's and 50's.
            • Can be argued that through the role of prophets women gained a degree of authority and were abe to make their voiced heard.
      • Petitions and popular politics
        • Petitions gave women a voice denied to them in formal politics.
        • Women petitioned for peace, freedom of trade, changed to the imprisonment laws, ect.
        • In August 1643, a crowd of women petitioned parliament for peace and food.
          • In 1649, 10,000 women presented another petition to parliament to release John Lilburne
            • However, Parliament took them as a joke and turned them away.
      • Writing
        • The collapse of censorship enabled women to publish their ideas and thoughts.
          • There was an enormous increase in the number of publications by women.
    • Impact of the Restoration
      • In 1660, Charles II reimposed on women and the order of pre-war times.
        • However, there remained some notable examples of women who broke through the limits of male-dominated society.
          • Eg, Bridget Bendish, grandaughter of Oliver Cromwell and daughter of new model army general Henry Ireton.
            • She managed a saltpan and refinery in East Anglia in the Restoration period and challenged to duel a man who insulted her grandfather.
      • By 1688 men continued to control society.


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