Noble Women of the Medieval Era
Introduction
Noble women did all the work and were treated like dirt! Noble women stayed at home while their husbands went off on crusades, diplomatic affairs, war, etc, and ran the manor. They sometimes had to defend the castle! Noble women had to learn how to read and write French and Latin, and played hostess at parties. (M.A. periodical p.4)
Background
When their husbands were home, noble women went hawking or participated in falconry with them. (M.A. periodical p. 4) Falconry was hunting with falcons, hawks, or eagles. It was a favorite activity of nobles. Falconry was like the feudal system. Noble women could only own and hunt with the Merlin falcon.
Golfing was also a favorite pastime of nobles; especially in Scotland- where golf began. In what little free time they had, noble women would weave tapestries and were usually very good at this skill. (Galloway p.44) They also liked to play chess.
Noble women were usually used as deal sealers. They could be married to a son from a land that her father wanted as an ally. World Book online states “Decisions about who a woman married, and what happened to her if she was widowed, were mainly in the hands of the men in her family or her feudal overlord.” (World Book para. 41) That is so not fair!
Famous Noblewomen
st._catherine_of_alexandria.jpgA few famous women of nobility are St. Bridget of Sweden, St. Elizabeth of Hungary, and St. Catherine of Alexandria. All had extremely cool stories, but they were different; very different. St. Catherine’s story was my favorite because it intrigued and fascinated me. She was born into a noble family and was beautiful, educated, wise, and converted to Christianity as a teenager. She had a vision, in which Christ, as a child, gave her a ring. The ring symbolized their mysterious marriage. She resisted adulterous advances of an Emperor named Maximinus. In doing this, she angered him. He had fifty philosophers debate her, to dissuade her from her faith. She converted them all, the empress, and many soldiers. The philosophers were burned; the empress and soldiers were martyred. She was tortured twice; both times the angels and God protected her. The Emperor finally beheaded her in 350. Angels are said to have carried her body to the site of Moses’ burning bush.

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St. Elizabeth of Hungary was born in Pressburg and was married off at fourteen! She was the daughter of King Andrew the second of Hungary. She married Ludwig the fourth, and they had three children. He joined the Fifth Crusade and died in Otranto in 1227. The Ecole Glossary claims “Henry Raspe, Ludwig's successor and later anti-king to Frederick the second, drove Elizabeth from Thuringia. In 1228, she became a Franciscan tertiary under the spiritual direction Of Conrad of Marburg, the first papal inquisitor in Germany, who ordered her to give up her children.” (Ecole para.1) It is also said that he criticized her severely. She devoted herself to helping the poor. She died at the age of twenty-four and was canonized four years later.

st_bridgit_of_sweden.jpgSt. Bridget of Sweden was born in 1303 and was married by thirteen to Ulf Gudmarson. They had eight children. She and her husband traveled on a pilgrimage for two years. Ulf died shortly after they returned. The Ecole Glossary says “Bridget retired to the Cistercian monastery at Vadstena, where prior, Pieter Olafsson, recorded her visions and translated them into Latin. When King Magnus the second endowed a double monastery at Vadstena in1346, Bridget established the Brigittine order.”(Ecole para. 1) She traveled to Rome, three years later, to seek the papal blessing for her order from Pope Clement the sixth. Except for a trip to the Holy Land, she lived in Rome for the rest of her life. The Ecole Glossary shows “Pope Urban the fifth blessed the Brigittines in 1370. Bridget also worked with St. Catherine of Siena to urge Pope Gregory the eleventh to return the papacy from Avignon to Rome. Pope Boniface the ninth canonized Bridget in 1391” (Ecole para. 1)

The Duties of a Noblewomen
Although a noble woman had many duties, her main duty was to produce a male heir. Some men would have their wives beheaded because all she gave birth to were girls! The women also had to arrange their children’s weddings. The father usually picked who the children married, though. Many other jobs included: settling disputes, handling finances, curing the sick or injured, overseeing the village school and some had to defend the castle! She could not make decisions of importance as long as her husband or son (of eligible age) was around. They were considered the property of their husband. Unmarried noble women usually joined convents or nunneries.

Noble women loved to travel with their husbands. The main reasons why people traveled in the medieval era were because of marriages, births, birthdays, or the most popular reason- tournaments! Noble women usually had their favorite knight and those knights loved to show off. The knights would write love letters and poems. Then they would declare their love for the lady. These declarations were usually made when the lord was away. Normally, relationships did not appear, although, some affairs have been recorded, such as Lancelot and Guinevere’s affair.

Noble women did not nurse their babies- they did not have time for it! Instead they hired a wet nurse to do the job. A wet nurse is a woman who just recently had a baby and is able to breastfeed her own baby as well as other babies of the village. Noble children rarely saw their parents when they were growing up. Boys were normally raised by another noble family. Girls were educated and were taught how to keep house.
old_book.jpgA noble woman was well educated and well trained to follow her husband’s orders. Some tutors of the medieval era believed only discipline could educate. They would study Latin and French and many other languages. They also were taught how to sew, embroider, weave, and, sometimes, how to quilt.
Conclusion
Noble women treated like they were far more inferior than they actually were. Women have done many things that men could have done or have and did it better. It is a man’s world and that makes it hard for women to achieve new heights but if we all work together, like the women’s suffrage movement, then we can do anything we want! Noble women had it hard but if they can make it, so can we!




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Works Cited
Deliyannis, Deborah Mauskopf. "Middle Ages." World Book Student. World Book, 2011. Web.
3 Apr. 2011.
Galloway, Priscilla. Archers, Alchemists, and 98 other Medieval Jobs You Might Have Loved or Loathed. New York: Annick Press, 2003
Keck, Karen Rae. “The Ecole Glossary.” The Ecole Initiative. http://www2.evansville.edu/ecoleweb/glossary.html
(3 April 2011)
Markham, Lois. “At The Castle.” Middle Ages December 2003:4-5.





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