Elizabethan women were tutored at home - there were no schools for
Elizabethan women were not allowed to enter University
Elizabethan women could not be heirs to their father's titles (
except female royals)
Elizabethan women could not become Doctors or Lawyers
Elizabethan women did not have the vote and were not allowed to
There were no Elizabethan women in the Army or Navy
Elizabethan women were not allowed to act in the theatres ( but
women at court were allowed to perform in the
Disobedience was seen as a crime
against their religion.
The Church firmly believed this and quoted the Bible in order to ensure the
continued adherence to this principle. The Scottish protestant leader John Knox
"Women in her greatest perfection was made to serve and obey man."
The fabric of
Elizabethan society was built with this belief and Elizabethan 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 the monarchy.
Royal Elizabethan Women
the subservient role of Elizabethan women provides an understanding as
to why Queen Elizabeth was reluctant to marry. All of her immediate male
relatives had died. She was answerable to no male member of the family. Had she married all this would have changed. Elizabeth would have been
expected to obey her husband. Mary Queen of Scots placed herself in this
situation when she married Lord Darnley. He expected Mary to obey his
wishes. The same occurred when the Queen's own sister, Mary, married
Philip of Spain - she was placed in a subservient role to this foreign
prince. The tragic Lady Jane Grey was used as a pawn to further the
ambitions of her powerful family by joining the family in marriage to
the Dudleys. She was, first of all, forced to marry Guildford Dudley.
Jane did raise objections saying that she was already promised to
Edward, Lord Hertford. The punishment for disobey was the whipping stool
- Elizabethan girls were beaten into submission and this happened to
Lady Jane. She was later forced into taking the throne against her
wishes. She was eventually executed by beheading - she was just
seventeen years old. These stories about the lives of Elizabethan women
illustrate how, even Royal Woman were totally dominated by the male
members of their families.
The Education of
Upper Class Elizabethan Women
The Elizabethan period brought the Renaissance, new thinking to England.
Elizabethan women from wealthy and noble families were sometimes allowed
the privilege of an Education. The girls of Noble families were
invariably taught by tutors at home and Elizabethan women were taught
from the age of five, or even younger. Various languages were taught
including Latin, Italian, Greek and French. Music and dancing skills
were essential for Elizabethan women. Elizabethan women were not allowed
to go to university but might be sent away to complete their education.
As young as seven years old girls would be sent away from their home to
live with another noble family. Elizabethan women would be taught a
range of subjects and skills. Manners and etiquette were of prime
importance, including how to curtsey. Music, dancing , riding and
archery were also taught. These young girls were expected to act as
servants to the Ladies of the castle - their duties would be to look
after clothes and the assist ladies with dressing and coiffure. Some
housewifely duties such as preserving fruits and household management
would be also be learnt. High ranking young women would take on the role
of ladies-in-waiting to the Queen.
Lower Class Elizabethan Women
Elizabethan Women from the lower classes were also expected to obey the
male members of their families without question. Lower class Elizabethan women would not have attended school
or received any formal type of education. Elizabethan women would have
had to learn how to govern a household and become skilled in all
housewifely duties. Their education would have been purely of the domestic
nature in preparation for the only real career option for a girl -
marriage. Single Elizabethan women were sometimes looked upon with
suspicion. It was often the single women who were thought to be witches
by their neighbours. All Elizabethan women would be expected to marry,
and would be dependant on her male relatives throughout her life.
Elizabethan Women and Marriage
Elizabethan women were
expected to bring a dowry to the marriage. A dowry was an amount of
money, goods, and property that the bride would bring to the marriage.
It was also referred to as her marriage portion. After marriage Elizabethan women were expected to run the households and
provide children. Large families were the norm as the mortality rate for
children and babies was so high. Many Elizabethan woman made arrangement
for the care of their children in case they themselves died during
Elizabethan Women - Appearance
The appearance of a noble Elizabethan woman was important.
An Elizabethan woman aged quickly during this era. Constant child bearing
and pregnancies took its toll on a woman's body. The Elizabethan diet
lacked Vitamin C resulting in bad teeth and bleeding gums. A Medieval
woman might even dye her hair yellow with a mixture of saffron, cumin
seed, celandine and oil. Face make-up was applied to acquire a pale
look. A pale complexion was so desirable that Elizabethan women were bled to achieve
the desired look. Face paint made from plant roots and leaves was also
applied. The white make-up was lead based and therefore poisonous -
Elizabethan women who applied this make-up were often ill and if it was
used in sufficient quantities it would result in death. The dress and
clothing of Elizabethan women was a series of different layers.
Uncomfortable corsets were worn to create the desired look dictated by
fashion. The color and materials that were worn were not just a matter
of choice. The type of clothing worn by Elizabethan women was dictated
by the Sumptuary Laws.
Interesting Facts and Information about
Elizabethan Life and Elizabethan Women
Some interesting facts and
information about Elizabethan Life and Elizabethan Women.
The life of Elizabethan Women was certainly not easy - arranged, loveless
marriages, subservient to men, short life expectancy and constant child