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The Rise Of Women In France

803 words - 3 pages

The Rise of Women in French Society

     During the Middle Ages, French society, along with the rest of Europe, revolved around the warrior class. In order to gain land and power nobles gave their services in the military and lived violent lifestyles. Treatment toward women during this period was harsh. "In a society of landed nobility dispersed fairly loosely across the country in their castles and estates, the likelihood of a preponderance of the man over the woman and thus of a more or less unconcealed male dominance, is very great." (Elias, Page 325.) Men beat their wives and typically had little respect for them. Marriage was based not on love but on increase in influence and wealth. "But often enough we hear of the other side, of a warrior, whether a king or a simple seigneur, beating his wife. It seems almost an established habit for the knight, flying into a rage, to punch his wife of the nose till blood flows." (Page 324.) However, from the fifteenth to the eighteenth centuries dramatic political changes emerged throughout Europe and a high court system developed in France. Power shifted to revolve around the monarch who created palace life. "By and large it can be said that a more peaceable social life formed about the lady of the court…" (Page 325.)

     When feudalism ended, so did the glory of battle. France was in a relatively peaceful state. Thus, in order to gain favor and prestige interests shifted. People now favored social status, land, exemptions from taxes, etc. The bourgeoisie had grown and taken power away from the warrior class of nobility. "Thereby the equilibrium is slowly established which gives optimal power to one man, the central ruler. The kings during this era created a luxurious palace court system that brought families and nobility together in close proximity. Under the watchful eye of society, men were less prone to physical violence and the importance of the woman grew. "Social life" began to grow and more importance was placed upon literature and the fine arts, skills that women had long been schooled in. In the past, it was the women and clergy who had been taught to read and write, as there had not been much importance for it during the days of wars and political unrest. "For the master of the court, his function as knight and military leader was still the primary one; his...

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