Last Updated 09 Apr 2020

Roles of Women in the Early Europe

Category Women
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In early, medieval Europe, everyday life and the duties of people were greatly different than they are today. Obviously, there was no technology and life was a lot simpler. However, some of the former ways of life are not always praised as something good. For example, women during the time were treated very inadequately. Yes, this has happened in just about every society in history, but it seems like most women during this period were used and disrespected more notably than in others. In Philippa Gregory’s novel, The Other Boleyn Girl, this theme is seen greatly.

In the story, the narrator, Mary, is defending her sister, Anne, after she is sentenced to death for producing an incest baby instead of a son for the king, King Henry. Mary, pleading for her sister, yells out “We did nothing more than that was ordered. We only ever did as we were commanded. Is she to die for being an obedient daughter? ”(Pg. 650). During this time period, many women in the royal courts were used to produce male heirs, mainly to keep the name of the king and the family continuing.

I strongly agree with the quote by Mary because killing a human being for a reason such as that is immoral and women are not just objects for men. In the story, Henry did have a choice to kill Anne or not, but I understood why he did end up taking her life. When Mary claims that the two Boleyn girls “did as they were commanded”, something drew to my attention. Mary was completely valid in saying that. Anne and Mary were mainly just used to birth a son. Several members of their family, including their uncle, demanded for one of them to bed the king.

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At first it was Mary who had an affair with the already married king. Even though Mary produces two children, one being a boy, it is not legitimate due to the fact that Mary is merely a mistress and not the queen. When he was done with Mary, King Henry moved on to Anne, who was more determined to become queen and have the child be legitimate. She eventually becomes the Queen of England, but it is proven that Henry was just using her for her child after he kills her. I do not agree with this concept by any means. However, this was a common role for women at the time.

Kings and royal families were so concerned about keeping their name going in the court that they would risk the lives of women in doing so. You would think that one of King Henry’s seven wives would pick up on this trend at some point, or any woman in any court for that matter. It seems like women were treated as objects in the royal courts. The women were the croc pot that prepared the kings’ stew. And, if that stew was not one hundred percent correct, the croc pot would be set aside and replaced with a new one.

I do not feel this is morally acceptable at all. I understand that kings wanted to have a male heir to keep the name going, but they should have had to complete that task so viciously. In this case, I do not agree with King Henry’s tactics at all, but I understand why he killed Anne. I believe that it was so common to banish or kill a wife for such crimes as adultery or incest that Henry had no choice, but to kill her. He was a very strong, determined man with a bold reputation for being so.

By beheading Anne, he was retaining his reputation, but also proved that it was never true love between him and Anne. He had women lined up to take the place of Anne. “He is at her house every night. He is as he was in the old days, when it was her. ” (656). This quote just proves the fact that Henry wanted nothing more of Anne than a son, which is a common theme of the roles of women during this time period. I do not agree with the concept of using women for the production of male heirs because it is immoral and women should not be viewed as objects.

That is a major theme in The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory. It is prevalent throughout the story and in history that King Henry of England used women as devices used to produce male heirs. This was also seen throughout history. Kings were so determined to keep their name going that they would execute their wives for such faults as not producing a boy, or in this case, birthing an incest baby. The kings had to maintain a strong reputation. I understand that, but do not agree with how they did so.

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