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Women of the Renaissance

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Women of the Renaissance

In the Renaissance times the female was supposed to marry well, be loyal to her husband and give birth to boys. A Renaissance Man, on the other hand, had to be well-educated, cultured, graceful, courageous and gentlemanly. He had to understand and appreciate arts and sciences. He also had to be refined and be of noble birth.

Women during the Renaissance played a subservient role. Society viewed women as a tool, made only to execute the function of Wife and Mother. Depending on the status of the woman, their lives varied somewhat. Peasant women often worked on equal levels with peasant men. They performed agricultural chores, took care of farm animals and dairy production. When they worked to be paid, they earned only half as much as the men did, even if they worked harder or longer than the men.

The upper class women were excluded from public life and were mostly confined within the household. The family would constantly supervise the young, upper class female, to assure her virginity. The well to do father would usually arrange a marriage to another well to do family, assuring the family's continued financial prosperity. A young woman had no say in whom the father picked. Many times the husband would be violent and cruel and the woman had no means of escaping her fate. Even if her family agreed that the marriage was horrible, a divorce during the time was very hard to get.

The education of upper class girls varied greatly from that of the boys. Many of the subjects taught to boys were not taught to girls. Females were taught how to become good housewives, and the ways of keeping a household running smoothly. They were generally not given books that they were passionate about, but rather on pre-determined subjects like morality, religion, agriculture and medicine.

Legal rights for women were non-existent. They were excluded from office buildings, as well as barred from participating in legal matters and law courts. Men were allowed to beat their wives at any time, for any reason. It was a common belief that the most important virtue for a woman was obedience. The wife should serve her husband loyally, and be at his beck and call day and night.

There were a few women who were exceptions to being "Renaissance Women" and were generally seen as "Renaissance Men" instead. Some women were even more intelligent and ambitious than their male counterparts, but were still seen as less powerful just because of their sex.

One such woman was Isabella D'Este. Isabella was born in 1474 to a liberal and affluent family. She was an amazingly bright and intellectual child. At the age of sixteen she could do things that many women at the time could not. For example, she could debate with people twice her age; she could speak Greek and Latin as well as sing and dance. She was a patron



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