“We all wake up each morning a little more Protestant.”
It is a well-known fact that when taking a look at the Middle Ages, we may say that every wife was regarded as a husband companion, however, it is important to mention that she was only his subordinate and she had to obey her husband. As a result, women were rather restricted in their actions at that time.
Nevertheless, some time later the Protestant spirit started to dominate and after the Protestant and Catholic Reformations due to a number of changes the role of women changed a lot. Let’s examine what religious freedoms and opportunities were give to women due to these reformations.
Due to the Protestant and Catholic Reformations women started to take part in different movements, for instance, church reforms. A good example to prove this statement is with Angela Mirici, the founder of the Italian Company-St. Ursula that was a group of single women and widows helping poor and ill people. Those women found the force in themselves to start earning for their living not only by teaching but also by weaving, so becoming an independent part of the society. What’s more, in 1535 Angela even got papal approval because a large number of the Italian people were supporting St. Ursula. As a result, similar charitable women groups began to appear in other countries, such Spain and France. (Stjerna, 1963)
The other important issue for the role of women at that period was literature as we may find many Catholic and Protestant tests of that time, written by women: manuscripts, various skills for literary activity, books on women rights and etc. Christine de Pizan wrote a number of works, defending the women, for instance, the “City of Ladies”. (Wiesner, 1952)
Furthermore, with the increased devotion of the Blessed Mother in a Catholic nation, the role of women grew inside home and family as well. As a result, women queenship, common to Our Lady Queenship, was greatly emphasized. Hence, the mother of a family received her dignity, rights, a little independence, and what’s more, a respect. However, is should be mentioned that with the Protestant reformation this aspect of the mutual respect and dignity suffered significantly.
To sum up, after the Protestant and Catholic Reformations, the role of women changed a lot: women began participating in different movements and charity organizations, started writing various manuscripts and theological works. Of course, they met a number of problems in achieving their goals as men were against women rights and freedom and did all that they could to resist them. However, women managed to achieve a number of their goals.
O’Reilly, M.F. (1912). Vincent of Beauvais. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved November 28, 2011 from New Advent: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15439a.htm
Stjerna, Kirsi (1963) Women and the Reformation, BLACKWELL PUBLISHING, Retrieved November 28, 2011 from Books.google.com
Wiesner, Merry E. (1952) Women and gender in early modern Europe/ Merry E. Wiesner, p.cm.- (New approaches to European history 20) ISBN 0 521 77105 6 (hb) Retrieved November 28, 2011 from Books.google.com