Women of the Middle Ages


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What was it like to be a women in the Middle Ages? For a man it was exciting – being a knight. But what was it like for a girl? Read Imagine a knight dressed in shining armor proudly bearing good King Arthur's flag rides past your humble home. Now you're being escorted down the stone steps of your father's castle by your rich husband-to-be, wearing robes the queen would be proud to call her own. Now you kneel you're overcome with joy as you feel the queen's royal crown slowly descend upon your head. The Middle Ages, what a romantic period. But behind the grandeur, shining armor and famous kings, were the women. In the shadows a step behind but still always there were the women of the Middle Ages. Who were they? Did they have power over their lives? What happened to them? Now I share with you from three different sets of eyes, the true story of the peasant girl, noble lady, and the princess of the Middle Ages. A PEASANT GIRL'S DAY Yawn! I stretched my arms as I slowly climbed out of my straw filled pallet. I quickly dressed in my long tunic and splashed last nights water on my face and hands. I peeked out the door way at the chilly morning sky. “Not much of a greeting for tomorrow’s holiday” I told my geese. Last year I paid my only penny to a band of traveling men to teach me my letters and numbers. I can’t write but I can count up to twenty. I can read fairly well. I looked back at my bed where my two sisters were fast asleep. Our father had been killed in the peasant revolt after my mother had died from the Black Death, that was five years ago. As I put out the breakfast of bread and water I planned my day.
Breakfast-bread and water Dressing my sisters-May and Melinda Feeding my geese-corn and water Dropping my sisters off at the garden to work Spinning, weaving, sewing, embroidery, and carding wool Dinner-bread, water, and fried goose eggs Walking my sisters over to help with the sheep Working in the fields of wheat Praying at the church with my sisters Delivering my cloth goods to the castle Supper-fried fish, fried goose eggs, bread and water Preparing for bed Prayers before bed then retiring

Only a regular day in the life of a peasant girl! A NOBLEMAN'S DAUGHTER'S THOUGHTS Yawn . . . I stretched and snuggled back deeper into my bed. I knew that soon my father’s servants would come in and rouse me. I wondered again if my father really would marry me off to that toad of a man, Lord Rockface. I shuttered at the name. That hideous thing was seventy five years of age and as mean as Satan. I much more preferred my other suitor, the soon to be Duke of Scotland, Jon Leifson of Castle la Kaydome. He was just two years older than me, my age being twenty four. I had already been married once before. My husband had been dead for two weeks from battle with the English when I had delivered my daughter, Alice. It was a good thing he was dead, because otherwise he would have had me beaten for not giving him a son as he had demanded. Two days after she was born my Alice went to God. She was dead from scarlet fever. I remember my own Lady Mother, how patience she is with everything! Whether it was helping to train the squires in training or touring the grounds to make sure everything was running smoothly. Even at my earthly enemy spinning, weaving sewing and embroidery. On all these tasks my mother was always smiling, patience and kind. Quiet a different view from my father, a drunk, rude and bellowing man. Too bad the church doesn’t allow divorce. My poor mother! Here comes my father’s servants time for my day to begin.

Women of the Middle Ages

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A VIEW FROM THE PRINCESS Crash! Clang! Thud! I shifted nervously in my seat. I glanced at my Lady Mother, the Queen of Scotland. How could she sit there so calmly watching this horrid joust. Especially when it was dedicated in her honor. I turned my head as they carried yet another victim of this terrible sport off the field. But my eyes met a equally grotesque sight Sir Walter Walum. Yuck! That man wanted to marry me only for my father’s money and my crown. Ugh, I much more preferred the sight to my left, Sir Alexander Scott. Sir Scott did not treat me as if I were just a bump in the road to becoming King. I of course had had many suitors, but with a little help from one of my friends I sent all of them packing save for Scott and Walum. I liked Alexander. He was soft spoken and good of heart. Walter is sixty and harsh and I am only sixteen and I don’t think it will work. Alexander on the other hand is only twenty years of age. Well the games are finally drawing to a close. Now we can finally go home. I’m excited and fearful at the same time. Tonight my father is going to tell the whole court, including me and my two suitors, who has been given the honor of marrying me. I pray it is Alexander. Time to find out. Gulp! You have now seen and shared the duties and responsibilities that the peasant girl labored away at, day in and day out. How noble women were considered “just like nails” to join families together, to make greedy suitors and parents more powerful and richer. You also shared with the princess her feeling of hate, love and disgust. Very few choices were given to women and they were treated unjust and unfair. These stories that you have just heard, are about the women of the Middle Ages. Activity – Up to 7 points added to Classwork/homework grade 1. Using a Venn diagram compare the lives of the Peasant girl to the Nobleman’s Daughter and the Princess. (up to1 pts.) 2. Using a Venn diagram compare your life to one of the three women from the Middle Ages. (up to1 pts.) 3. Write a 3 paragraph essay on this topic using the guide below (up to 5 pts.) Paragraph 1 – Compare the 3 Medieval women’s lives: How are they alike How are they different Which one would you like to be and explain Paragraph 2 – Compare your life to one of the Medieval women’s lives How are they alike How are they different Why is yours so different Paragraph 3 – What surprised you about the lives of Medieval women

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