I. Questions of periodization A. Nature and causes of changes in the world history framework leading up to 600 C. E. – 1450 as a period


D. Were there common patterns in the new opportunities available to and constraints placed on elite women in this period?



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D. Were there common patterns in the new opportunities available to and constraints placed on elite women in this period?

Overview – could play key political, social, economic roles, but conduct strictly regulated

1. Europe

a. Negatives

1. Chivalry – idea that women are delicate, beautiful, need to be protected

2. Traditional roles of homemaker/childcare provider

3. Code of chivalry reinforced women as weak/subordinate
b. Positives

1. Could exert great deal of political and cultural influence

a. Aristocratic heir to rich property/kingdom > extremely important

2. Managed estates and accounts in men’s absence

3. Mothers of young kings whose father’s died served as regents/advisors

4. Some non Germanic kingdoms could see women take throne

5. Eleanor of Aquitaine – richest heiress of France

a. Married to Louis VII of France

b. Henry II of medieval England

6. Convents offered women opportunities

a. Service in communities

7. Women in towns a bit more freedom

a. Allowed to participate in trade/craft guilds
2. China

a. Negatives

1. Subject to restrictions

2. Women needed to produce dowry

3. Marriages made to benefit groom

4. Foot-binding – crippling to look tiny/dainty

b. Positives

1. Inheritance and property rights



2. Retained control of dowry after divorce/husband’s death

IX. Major Comparisons and Snapshots





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