During the Middle Ages, women were supposed to be submissive and do as they were told. They were dependent on their fathers and husbands. Some of them had other ideas of their own, and they gained a place in history because of their strong heart and determination.
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Here are three iconic women that stood their ground and fought for their ideals.
The most well-known of all iconic women in the Middle Ages is by far Joan of Arc. We will not be talking about her right now, as there were other determined women who should be remembered.
1. Christina of Markyate
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In an era of arranged marriages, daughters of rich families were supposed to marry men of high status to ensure the status of their own families. Love was out of the question, as most important was wealth and rank.
Some girls wanted to dedicate their lives to God, making vows of chastity and wanting to become nuns. This wasn’t an option for their parents. One such woman was Christina of Markyate, who saw herself forced to run away from an arranged marriage with a nobleman. As a young girl, she took a vow to become a nun, but her parents tried many tricks to force her to marry. At first, they tried to flatter her, then beat her or slip love potions into her tea. They even brought the man of their choice into her bedroom at night to have her by force, and locked them in. Christina managed to hide and escape the unwanted contact.
Eventually, she fled from home and sought sanctuary in St Albans Abbey, under protection of a monk and deacon of the abbey.
2. Margaret Paston
Margaret Paston is noted for her strong heart as a wife who took on her husband’s duties and held her family together while her husband was away from home. During this time, she managed to face the besieging army attacking the Paston estate. Finally, she was physically ejected from the house, as her forces were outnumbered.
St Margaret’s Church, Paston; Photo Source: literarynorfolk.co.uk
3. Margery Kempe
Because her husband refused to pay for her eccentric displays, such as gold hair nets or rich clothing, Margery Kempe decided to earn her own money. She started her own brewery. It didn’t last long, though, because of her lack of professional attitude. Her brewers fled and the business collapsed.
After the first failure, she decided to take another job. Margery discovered she had an odd gift: that of weeping whenever was needed. She could weep loudly in public and for a long time, so she became a professional mourner. She was constantly weeping: during dinnertime, at sermons or while traveling. People around her thought she was a nuisance, but she finally managed to enter the Trinity Guild.
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Medieval women weren’t as submissive as everyone thinks, after all. They were perfectly able to rule their own lives, exactly like women nowadays.
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