Within the Elizabethan Era, the Renaissance emerged. It was a time of revival in the worlds of art, language and learning. Because of this reawakening in 1.jpgthese areas, a few wealthy and noble women were allowed the privilege of an education. These women were taught by tutors beginning at a very young age.

They learned
  • many languages- including Latin, Greek and French
  • the arts of dance and song

They weren't allowed
  • to go to Universities
  • to go into professional careers like law, medicine or politics
  • to vote
  • to act in plays- be an actress

Family titles were always passed on to sons, as was any money or land. The women were raised to be submissive to men. They were whipped when they disobeyed. Disobedience became thought of by society as a crime against religion.

2.jpgIn the Elizabethan Era, poverty grew bounds, while charity diminished. Poor women could only hope to be protected by men. The Bubonic Plague broke out in multiple areas and access to doctors or medicine was minimal. Women were expected to make at-home remedies as a part of their ‘wifely’ duties.

The idea of education was much different for the women of common families. These women never received formal education, but were rather educated to run their own home. Young girls learned “housewifely” duties, which prepared them for marriage. All Elizabethan women were expected to be married. Those who remained single were looked upon with suspicion, and often accused of witchcraft. This system made sure the women were dependent on men in every epoch of their lives, “Women in her greatest perfection were made to serve and obey men.” (Knox)2.gif

The social obligations of women in terms of the bondage of marriage were endless.

Women were expected to
  • bring a dowry
  • run the household
  • provide children.

Large families were more common than today, as were infant mortalities. Women took pride in their children and enjoyed their abilities to form a family. It was one of the few services that a woman could provide that a man couldn’t.

The witchcraft hunt became extremely strong in the Elizabethan Era. It was renewed and promoted by the pamphlets printed from the newly invented printing press. Single women were often accused as witches. They kept pets for company. Society believed these pets to be their ‘familiars.’ The accused witches were often given the blame of diseases, bad harvests, illnesses and fires. Witch hunts would end up taking many lives, mostly those of women.

Before the dissolution of the monasteries, single women would join nunneries or convents. However, this was no longer an option. Thus, the single women of this time became domestic servants.