Little is known about the life of women in the Middle Ages, but without doubt it was hard. The Church taught that women should obey their husbands. It also spread two very different ideas about women: that they should be pure and holy like the Virgin Mary; and that, like Eve, they could not be trusted and were a moral danger to men. Such religious teaching led men both to worship and also to look down on women, and led women to give in to men’s authority. Mar-riage was usually the single most important event in the lives of men and women. But the decis-ion itself was made by the family, not the couples themselves. This was because by marriage a family could improve its wealth and social position. Everyone, both rich and poor, married for mainly financial reasons. Once married, a woman had to accept her husband as her master. A dis-obedient wife was usually beaten. It is unlikely that love played much of a part in most marria-ges. The first duty of every wife was to give her husband children, preferably sons. Because so many children died as babies, and because there was little that could be done if a birth went wrong, producing children was dangerous and exhausting. Yet, this was the future for every wife from twenty or younger until she was forty.
The wife of a noble had other responsibilities. When her lord was away, she was in charge of the manor and the village lands, all the servants and villagers, the harvest and the animals. She also had to defend the manor if it was attacked. She had to run the household, welcome visitors, and store enough food, including salted meat, for winter. She was expected to have enough knowledge of herbs and plants to make suitable medicines for those in the village who were sick. She probably visited the poor and the sick in the village, showing that the rulers “cared” for them. She had little time for her own children, who in any case were often sent away at the age of eight to another manor, the boys to “be made into men”.
Most women, of course, were peasants, busy making food, making cloth and making clothes from the cloth. They worked in the fields, looked after the children, the geese and grew the vegetables. The animals probably shared the family shelter at night. The family home was dark and smelly. A woman’s position improved if her husband died. She could get control of the money her family had given the husband at the time of marriage, usually about one-third of his total land and wealth. But she might have to marry again: men wanted her land, and it was difficult to look after it without the help of a man.
I. Consult your dictionary for the words in bold type from the text.
II. Match the words and their definitions:
a. Knight 9 1. A person who travels to a holy place for religious reasons
b. Squire 8 2. A man whose job is guiding a plough, especially one pulled by animals
c. Pilgrim 1 3.The religious and moral system of behavior which the perfect knight was
expected to follow
d. Plowman2 4. A young person who is training to become an officer in the Police or armed
e. Chivalry3 5. A boy or a young man
f. Cadet 4 6. A piece of clothing that is worn over other clothes by judges
g. Lad 5 7. A sum of money demanded or paid for the release of a
h. Gown 6 8. a man of high social status who owned most of the land in a particular
i. Joust 10 9. A man of high social rank who had a duty to fight for his king
j. Ransom 7 10. to fight on horses using a ling stick to try to knock the other person off
their horse, especially as part of a formal contest
III. Match people and their descriptions:
1.simple-minded and book-loving n a. 1476
2.the first king of House of York h b. 1455-1485
3.the war of the Roses could have stopped but for c. James I
4.coined the name “War of Roses” l d. G. Chaucer
5.defeated Richard Gloucester at Bosworth m e. 1440
6.the first deposed English king k f. W.Caxton
7.Edward V and his younger brother were killed I 1483 g. 1483
8.Eton College e h. Edward IV
9.The War of the Roses i. Richard III
10.the first Stuart King of England k. Edward II
11.the Canterbury Tales d l. Walter Scott
12.English printing press a m. Henry VII
n. Henry VI
IV. Are these statements true or false:
1. The principle that kings were neither to be killed nor deposed was broken at the end of the 12th century. F During the 14th century
2. Some sixty families controlled England at that time and some of the nobles were very powerful and kept their own private armies. T
3. Edward won the throne in 1461after Henry VI died in battle. T
4. Walter Scott named these wars the “Wars of the Roses, because York’s symbol was a white rose and Lancaster’s a red one.T
5. But “Middle English”, the language of the 14th and 15th centuries, was very similar DIFFERENT to Anglo-Saxon. F
6. By the end of the Middle Ages, English as well as Latin was being used in legal writing and also in elementary schools. T
7. Winchester School was founded by William Wykeham at the end of the 12 14th century. F
8. Women were a moral danger to men.
9. Once married, a woman had to accept her husband as her master.T
10. A disobedient wife should be beaten. WAS USUALY BEATEN
11. Nothing that could be done if a birth went wrong. t
12. A noble lady was expected to have enough knowledge of medicine to treat those in the village who were sick. T
13. The animals lived under the family roof.
14. Children of a noble family were sent away at the age of seven. 8 F
V. Arrange the royal houses in the order they succeeded to the throne: House of Stuart, House of Plantagenet, House of Tudor, House of Normandy, House of York, House of Lancaster.
VI. Translate in writing the sentences underlined in the text.
VII. Put 15 questions to the text and send them to your teacher for checking up by 12.00 (noon) o’clock on the day previous to your English class.
VIII. Points to ponder. You are to prepare a statement on each point containing 4-5 sentences. You may make notes in your note-books.
1. Youngsters do not read books nowadays. Advantages and disadvantages
2. Marriage is usually the single most important event in the lives of men and women.
3. It’s better to have sons than daughters in the family.
4. Women are busy making career not families nowadays.