Men and Women

Julia M. H. Smith

in Europe after Rome

Published in print June 2007 | ISBN: 9780192892638
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191670626 | DOI:
Men and Women

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  • Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)


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This chapter examines forms of domination and subordination in every aspect of daily existence in the early Middle Ages. It extends the exploration of the patterning of men and women's behaviour begun in Chapter 3 by taking gender disparities as its focus. It argues that, although early medieval gender relationships varied widely from place to place and changed greatly in the course of the time period under discussion, there were nevertheless fundamental commonalities in mental attitudes and social practices throughout the early Middle Ages. These turned on the inferiority of women to men. It begins with explicit statements and manifestations of the differing social worth of men and women, before moving on to two important subjects where the disparities between men and women were particularly marked — sexual partnerships and the negotiation of marriage, on the one hand, and access to landed property, on the other. In all these areas, the Roman legacy turns out to be vital.

Keywords: Middle Ages; domination; subordination; gender differences; gender relationships; social worth; sexual partnerships; marriage; Roman legacy

Chapter.  14736 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)

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