During the High Middle Ages, thepopulation of Europe increased greatly which allowed trade to prosper and theMedieval Period climate to change. The political structure where knights and lower-status nobles owed militaryservice to their overlords in return for the right to rent from lands andmanors, were two of the ways society was organized in the High Middle Ages. Menduring this time was seen as this prestige figure versus women, they are seenless. Women were taught to be a “good wife” to their husbands by cleaning,cooking home food, and taking care of the children.
1Once a woman is married, they would have restrictions on what to do and whatthey are expected to do in the house which is usually cooking and cleaning.Women, even those in privileged lifestyle, had little control over the route oftheir lives. 2 Womenin general, had arranged marriage by their families and this also goes for thehusbands. Depending on the woman’s status, they had different responsibilitieswhen it comes to being in the kitchen. Medieval women played an active role inthis society. The three major groups of women that contributed a lot to thesociety are Royal/Noblewomen, Religious women (Nuns), and Peasants/Serfs women.The similarity between a royalwoman and a noblewoman is that they are placed in the same environment, whichwas the castle.
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These two groups of women are known as the top two in themedieval hierarchy. A royal woman doesn’t really have any relationship towardsthe kitchen. Their main duty as a queen is to help the king and noblemen findways to spy on rivals, wars, or simply spread important gossip throughout theland.3But noblewomen, has somewhat relationship with the kitchen which is supervisingall meals while the kitchen staff prepares food. As noblewomen, they have other jobsthat deals with maintaining the castle. Sometimes they would have to managesmall hotels and restaurants. 4Whenthey were younger, they were taught how to be a “good woman” by learning how tocook, and maintain the house. So that when they get married, their main duty wouldbe bearing children.
During this time, having a big family was normal. Mostmedieval woman would become pregnant about 4 to 8 times. 5Whena wealthy noblewoman gets married, the celebration would last for nine days offeasting.
Some of the food they would serve are eggs, cheese, bread, boars,chicken, and even pigeons. 6The next group of women are thereligious women, also known as nuns. Studies shows that 7 to 10% of women nevermarried.
For upper class women, the convent was an alternative to married life.Older women also became nuns, many widows chose this way of life after death oftheir husband. The medieval ceremony for a woman to become a nun is similar toa wedding- a nun would be seen as married to God. 7Aring would be placed on their finger and they would wear a wedding gown.Becoming a nun was a serious life-long commitment and usually meant continuoushard work. That work was almost certainly manual for those that did not comefrom wealthy families.8As a nun, most of their time is dedicated towards prayer, study, and work.
Their work period ran about 5 to 6 hours a day. Medieval nuns had to take care ofchildren around the age of seven, and to teach them either directly orindirectly. The major jobs as a nun are supervising the daily routinemanagement, household accounts, and staffs of servants. They also maintainchurch services, and oversee the setting of the tables. They took care oflinens and dishes. As the years went by, however, they employed people toperform many chores.
Those people are seen as the lower class, also known aspeasants. Peasant women were expected toshare in all their husband’s labor on the farm. Medieval peasant women whoworks in the castle provides meals and took orders from their lord and hisfamily. 9Mostof them were expected to cook, clean, and wait on the lord. The lives of thesewomen changed with the season.
For example, small animals require slaughteringand skinning during the autumn as it wasn’t practical to feed animals duringthe winter. The meat was then soaked in salt. Bread was the main source of foodfor the peasant woman and her family. Corn, grain, cabbage, beer, and cider wasobtained from the local area. 10Duringthe busiest time of the year, such as harvest, women often joined their husbandin the field to bring in the crops.
Medieval peasant women often participatedin brewing, baking, and manufacturing textiles11.The most common symbol of the peasant women was the distaff – a tool used forspinning flax and wool. Peasant were the poorest people inthe medieval era, but serfs were the poorest of the peasant class. Serf womenhad to do extra work.
They had certain payments, either in money or more oftenin grain, honey, eggs, or other products. Medieval serf women have a labor onthe lord’s domain for 2-3 days each week.12They were basically slaves. Female serfs had to spin and weave materials everyyear for the lord Many serf women didn’t marry because of a shortage ofeligible landholding partners. These women worked inside and outside of thekitchen but mainly in the fields.
A typical day for serf women isstarting the day with breakfast. Their breakfast includes bread, an onion, apiece of cheese and some beer. Both men and women serfs worked in the fields,but women took care of most of the household chores13which involved raising children, shearing sheep, milking sheep and cows, takingcare of the chickens, making clothes, gardening, preparing meals, and baking.14Women also managed the household economy. The household depends on the women’swise choice on managing the food supplies to keep them fed from monthly andyearly.15In the evening, usually serf women would prepare lunch that includes stew madewith onions, cabbage, peas and turnips, with a seasoned bone or possibly a bitof meat. Women’s place in medieval societyhave strike a balance between the power of their wealth, status andachievements are often corresponding the background of ordinary women, whoselives tended to leave few remains on the historical record.
Although, womendidn’t have the biggest roles in the kitchen. They still contributed inside and outside ofthe kitchen which lead to why the economy increased in the medieval timeperiod. Women, in general, were either ignored by men or taken for granted.There were rarely any religious or romantic literature that gave informationabout the actions the women have made. Most of the books and journals werewritten by men. The lives of these women wereexceedingly hard and unfair. Many would have blame Christianity. WhileChristianity might have played a small role as to why men thought they couldtreat women this particular way, they also provided protection for women aswell.
16Itdid not allow divorce for any given reason compare to how it is now. Men wereallowed to beat them within an inch of their life. There were some kings thattreated women fairly and had respect for them but there weren’t a lot of them. Eventhough, women weren’t the producing popular recipes or known for their cooking.They were still involved with producing the ingredients, harvesting them andmaking sure the economy stays active.
Men can have the title of professionalduring this time but women were the main reason why all these ingredients werethere in the first place because, they were the ones planting and harvestingthem. 1 Gina L. Greco & & ChristineM. Rose, ed.
, The Good Wife’s Guide: Le Ménagier de Paris (Cornell UniversityPress, 2009), 15-20.2 Alixe Bovey, “Women in medievalsociety,” British Library, https://www.bl.uk/the-middle-ages/articles/women-in-medieval-society(November 15, 2017). 3 Simon Newman, “Queen in the MiddleAges,” The Finer Times, http://www.thefinertimes.
com/Middle-Ages/queens-in-the-middle-ages.html (November 20,2017). 4 Linda Alchin, “Noble Women inMiddle Age,” Lords and Ladies, http://www.lordsandladies.org/noble-women-in-the-middle-ages.
htm(November 17, 2017).5 Ibid., 1.6 Ibid.
, 1. 7 Alixe Bovey, “Women in medievalsociety,” British Library, https://www.bl.
uk/the-middle-ages/articles/women-in-medieval-society(November 15, 2017).8 Ibid.,1.9 Pat Knapp & Monika von.
Zell,”Women and Work in the Middle Ages,” http://sandradodd.com /sca/womenandwork(November 15, 2017).10 Linda Alchin, “Medieval PeasantWomen,” Medieval life and times, http://www.medievallifeand-times.info/medieval-life/medieval-peasant-women.
htm(November 15, 2017).11 Ibid., 1.
12 Pat Knapp & Monika von. Zell, “Womenand Work in the Middle Ages,” http://sandradodd.com /sca/womenandwork (November15, 2017).
13 Alchin, Linda “Serfs DailyLife.” Lords and ladies.http://www.lordsandladies.org/serfs.
htm (November 15, 2017). 14 Ibid., 1.15 Ibid.
, 1.16 Pat Knapp & Monika von. Zell,”Women and Work in the Middle Ages,” http://sandradodd.com /sca/womenandwork(November 15, 2017).