Oh, to be a medieval wife!

I am currently reading ‘Queen By Right’ by author Anne Easter Smith, a book I highly recommend. ‘Queen By Right’ tells the story Cecily Neville, Duchess of York, who is portrayed as someone harboring many feminist ideas, though she cannot speak openly about them.  Some of Joan of Arc’s story is told in the novel as well, which proves to be quite interesting.  You really get a good idea of the oppression that women suffered at the time. Anyway, my point here is not about how interesting the novel is, but about a homily the author chose to quote.

The homily was written by a French merchant for his new, young bride, in the late 1300’s.  It was named ‘Goodman of Paris,’ and later used as a “guide” for young wives of the era.  Here it is as quoted in the novel:

“…that you shall be humble and obedient towards him that shall be your husband, the which article containeth in itself four particulars.  The first particular saith that you shall be obedient to wit to him and to his commandments whatsoe’er they be, whether they be made in earnest or in jest, or whether they be orders to do strange things, or whether they be made concerning matters of small import or of great; for all things should be of great import to you, since he that shall be your husband hath bidden you to do them… The fourth particular is that you be not arrogant and that you answer not back to your husband that shall be, nor his words, nor contradict what he saith, above all before other people.”

You can find more of The Goodman of Paris at: http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/goodman.asp

We’ve come a long way since then, ladies!

Disclaimer: This post was written by a Feministing Community user and does not necessarily reflect the views of any Feministing columnist, editor, or executive director.

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