Imagine waking up in a cold dark morning just to get ready to set up all things in good order within their house. Imagine a lady's small soft palms starting to get thicker each day in uncontrollable speed. "I know I have the body of a weak and feeble women." (Ashby 58) these are supposed to be the words of Elizabeth I. She was Queen of England and more powerful than any man. But her views on women were clear. Many people in England agreed with her: women were not equal to any men.
Well, although Elizabeth England is from 16th century to 17th century (1558~1603), which is about 400 years ago, women are treated very differently. Women during Elizabethan England time were treated unequally due to three major statements. They were not getting enough education to be professionals, women in marriage have heavier workloads than men, and they have many unreasonable limits in their lives. In our society, everyone knew education is one of the major elements to build up our knowledge, so people offer their professional skills in order for them to earn money.
Women can only receive education until the level below university. Firstly, Queen Elizabeth I made law that women were not allow to go to university, but can be tutored. The reason that Queen banned women from university premises was because she felt that they were distracting men from their studies. This seems a little ironic because queen Elizabeth is also a female and doesn't she want to be stronger than men? Or take some advantages from her reign to benefit her female citizens? This shows men have prior chance no matter who ruled during that period, men would still be in one step higher than women.
Secondly, Women could receive high standard education, but it was always lower level than men. Since women receive less education than men, they would need to rely on male's family after married because her husband has sufficient knowledge to promote his career and support his family. Women were physically weaker and less intelligent. Because of this, women are expected to have only two ambitions-to get married and become an obedient wife. Then they will have a husband to protect them and someone to make all important decisions. Even their choice of husband was not theirs alone. Before a girl could marry, she had to have her father's consent.
If he did not approve, she had to find someone else. Most women if the sixteen and seventeen centuries stayed in a marriage contract that includes women brought a dowry of cash or property to the marriage. The dowry went to the father of the groom. In return, the wife was guaranteed a jointure, a chunk of property or money, if she was left widowed. Lastly, due to lacking knowledge, those women could not be professionals to earn more money. Women cannot enter professionals, for example, law, medicines, and politics. Therefore, they can only do domestic services such as cooks, maids, etc. However, they could write works of literature. Some were even published. For example, Winchester, Barbara. Tudor Family Portraits published in 1555.
Another way that women were treated unequally compare to men was that they have heavier workloads than men. A woman often contributed as much as her husband to her family income. Normally, women will follow things that her husband does. In town, women engaged in a wide variety of laundresses, and street vendors. They travel to markets to buy and sell goods, while her husband does that exact same thing. As a farmer's wife, she has to do work like a farmer. For example, in her usual days, making cheese and butter, collecting eggs from the poultry, selling the vegetables that they planted, rise cows and chickens on a farm...etc are all her temperate jobs.
We can see from the quote written by John Fitzherbert The Broke of Husbandrye. 1548, "milk thy kye, secle thy calves, sye up thy milk, take up they children, array them, and provide for the husband's breakfast, dinner, supper. And to ordain corn, and malt to the mill, to bake and brew withal what is need is." (from John Fitzherbert The Broke of Husbandrye. 1548 Lockery 151). and "thous must make butter and cheese when thou mayest, serve thy swine both morning and evening. And to go or ride to the market, to sell butter, cheese, milk, eggs, chickens, hens, pigs, geese and all manner of the corns." (from John Fitzherbert The Broke of Husbandrye. 1548 Lockery 151) Sometimes women have more work than men do. They are responsible for domestic tasks as cooking, brewing, mending, and cleaning.
Also they are required to know some basic medical skills. women knit clothes to earn extra money. Women take task of garden like winnowing the grain after it was harvested. "in fact, both husband and wife were expected to work, although she was normally engaged in labor that could be done at home." (Singman 30). From above information, it knocks off our old fashion mind about women working in household and rest all day long without doing much work. It also proves that those men do less work than women and treated unequally to them by giving them more work to do. We can see that women not only do those housework, which is what a housewife will usually do, but they also do most work that men do. Whereas men in Elizabethan England, they only have to do their work outdoor. Those men won't do housework like women, so this proves women are treated unequally compare to men on the amount of workload.
The third unfairness was that there are many limits in many cases of their lives. First, women, due to society position, were not allowed to vote. Second, women cannot join army or navy. Third, women could not be heirs to their father's titles. All titles would pass from father to son or brother to brother, depending on the circumstances. The only exception was, of course, the crown. The crown could pass to a daughter and that daughter would be invested with all the power and Majesty of any king.
This allowed Mary, and then Elizabeth, to reign. "I cannot deny the writing of a book against the usurped authority and unjust of women, neither yet am I minded to retreat or to call bads any principal point pr proposition of the same." (from David Laing(ed.). The words of John Knox. 1895. In some cases women could not inherit estates, but women could be heiresses to property if not to titles, and some women, especially if the only child of a great noble man, could be very affluent heiresses indeed.
Robert Dudley's first wife, Amy Robsart, was Sir John Robsart's only child, and inherited both his estates in Norfolk. It was not always clear what happened to these estates when the woman married, whether they became the property of their husband, but this was not automatically the case and if the wife died, he could lose the properties. Marriages of the nobility were very complicated affairs indeed and marriage treaties invariably had to be drawn up so that each party knew exactly where they stood in such matters. The laws of inheritance meant that fathers were anxious to have a son, but that does not mean that daughters were unloved and unwanted.
The attitude of Henry VIII to his daughters was unusual, and was probably the result of his obsession with providing the country with a male heir and subsequent ruler. Parents did love their daughters and saw them as precious gifts from God. Of all the children Thomas More had, his daughter Margaret was his favorite, and William Cecil was a devoted father to all his children, male and female. Queen Elizabeth would write letters of condolence on the death of daughters as well as the deaths of sons. This is only for the nobilities, but in England, how many female citizens more were there? Of course they were much more than those nobles. Forth limit is that women could not act on the stage. This happened in Shakespeare's play - young boys would play female's role. Women did not appear on stage until 17th century. In Shakespeare's play, it also shows some unfairness between men and women. In Julius Caesar, Portia, the wife of Brutus, asks why a wife should not be entitled to share her husband's problem.
"Portia: "within the bond of marriage, tell me Brutus, that appertain to you? Am I your self but as it were in sort or limitation, and talk to you sometimes? Dwell I but in the suburbs Portia is Brutus's harlot, not his wife. If this were true, then should I know this secret. I grant I am a woman; but withal a woman that Lord Brutus took to wife"" (Lockery 156). A man had the legal right to chastise his wife as he was seen as the head of the marriage. However, it is important to understand what this "headship" meant. It did not mean, as if often supposed, that the husband was able to command his wife to do anything he pleased, in other words, be a petty tyrant.
The headship principal was quite the opposite. It derived essentially from the biblical teachings of Paul in the New Testament, and the headship was a loose concept that gave the husband more responsibility in the marriage than the wife. The man was given responsibilities towards his wife, essential in ages when the woman spent most of her years pregnant, and was commanded to love and honor his wife. The idea of a tyrannical husband was completely against the Christian ethos from which the principal derived. While Puritans may have publicly advocated the submission of women, there is no evidence that their views were the views of the nation.
Quite the contrary, the Puritan pamphleteers bewailed the relationships between husbands and wives because they were too informal and affectionate. One early Stuart writer, William Gouge, found himself publicly called "a hater of women" because he had published a tract on the need for female submission. While a man did have the right to chastise his wife, he did not have the right to be cruel or inflict bodily harm. A man could be punished in law or by the community for being cruel to his wife, and in some cases, could be legally prevented from living with his wife. While marital rape may not have been a public issue, rape outside of wedlock was certainly regarded as an abominable crime, and if found guilty of it, a man was sentenced to death by hanging.
The women that perhaps suffered the most in this period were ironically those like the Queen who did not wish to marry. 400 years ago, women in the Elizabethan England period were not treated equally compare to men, However, in our modern developed world, more and more women stand up for themselves. Instead, men are the ones that should plead women for their survival. Therefore, maybe 10 years later, women will one-day stand in a higher position than men.