Medieval Romance for WomenThe Victorian era might have promoted the ideal of the pale, helpless female, but that was not what medieval women were like! In the medieval days, 1/5th of women died in childbirth. The children they bore only had a 40% chance of making it past age 10. Women had to be strong in body, strong in spirit, able to cook, clean, lug water, raise the kids, tend to the garden, and keep their husband happy too. Luckily they were surrounded by a whole village of friends to have fun with!
Women were brought up as active members of the household. Kids in medieval times weren't thought of "glowing entities of adoration" :) They were family members and were expected to share in chores. Starting from a very young age they would fetch water, sweep floors, help with cooking, help with cleaning. They were loved, certainly, but they would shoulder an equal amount of work based on their size. Few children went to school, and few learned how to read and write (except in noble families). So their daily training was in the tasks they would have to do as an adult - tasks in caring for a household.
Girls grew up cooking, cleaning and caring for other siblings and they looked forward eagerly to when they could get out on their own and be in charge of their own household. When they sought men, they primarily looked for men who could ensure their household was safe. There were bandits in medieval times, cutthroats, wolves, and other dangers. There were roofs to mend, fences to fix, fields to plow. The woman could not afford to have a weak partner who would leave all of that work to her. She had enough on her hands! She needed an active partner who would be there at her side, ensuring she and her children were kept safe.
In addition, medieval people who survived to adulthood often lived to age 60 or longer. Eleanor of Aquitaine lived to be 82 - and she led quite the wild life! A woman would want to choose a man who made her happy, who she could really grow old with.
If a woman fell in love with a man, she would usually need to convince her father that he was in fact going to care for her. As his daughter, she was very precious to her father, and he would want to ensure that she was going to be fed and clothed well in this man's care. In return the father would often offer a dowry as a present to the future son-in-law, to thank him for caring well for his daughter.
With nobles, the marriage was not as much about love as it was about handling land transfer and noble titles. You can read more about the Medieval Romance for Nobles.
Medieval Romance Basics
Medieval Romance for Villagers
Medieval Romance for Nobles
Medieval Romance for Men
Medieval Romance for Women
Life in Medieval Days
Lisa's Medieval Romances
Seeking the Truth
A Sense of Duty
Online Literary Magazines
Lisa Shea's Homepage