Early Modern Family Analysis

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This essay will deal with women’s role in Early Modern Society - their position in the family and the roles they undertook in the household. Although usually living as inferior beings to their male counterparts, women, as I hope to demonstrate, played a vital role in keeping the family afloat monetarily, educating the family religiously, farming and providing the family with food and drink from their own land, and many other activities. With the typical view of the Modern Early Household being one of a Male dominated one, where everything in the household is due to the actions of the male, I hope to prove that this was most definitely not the case.
Early Modern Europe was a patriarchal society. As such, Women were seen as “weaker vessels”
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While higher classes could hire out minders, this luxury was not usually afforded to women in lower classes. In fact, women from lower classes could often obtain work minding and caring for the children of higher class women. There were a number of other common jobs that women could do to make money, oftentimes juggling several different jobs. Alice Clark describes the “archetypal Elizabethan housewife” as “brewing, baking and marketing”. Small scale domestic beer brewing, usually done by women, could be sold at market and brought money in to the household. Some other female domestic work such as farming hens for eggs or growing various crops could equally supply her family with money. Besides generating revenue, these practices also produced food and drink for the family, making families’ self-sufficient and reducing living costs of the lower class families. Women also spent large amounts of time making clothes or bedding on a spinning wheel, in what Margaret Spufford names “the great reclothing of rural England” . In larger households, the women would not complete the tasks themselves but would instead act as supervisors to servants who completed the various tasks on her behalf. In a humorous recording from the second Earl of Clare, he grudgingly documented his wife’s practice of sending the laundry out to be washed elsewhere by someone else…show more content…
Taking responsibility for almost every aspect of the house - producing food for sale and domestic consumption, weaving linen and other clothing for their family, co-managing the economy of the house (or taking full control if the male head of house is absent , ensuring the children are properly educated religiously and practicing their faith, working outside the house to bring in their share of money or any other activity, such as taking her husband’s students as lodgers in my early referenced example – women certainly proved to be more than simply a child bearer for the husband in the patriarchal society. It can be strongly argued that women played as important a role, if not an even more important role, than their husbands in the Early Modern
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