Renaissance Women

Renaissance – 14th – 17th Century.

Renaissance was the period of great revival and reformation as it came after the Dark Ages that is remembered as the time of cultural, social and economical deterioration. When talking about the Renaissance period, roughly from 14th to 17th Century, many historians consider it as the time when women were given equal rights as men, but, the claim is largely criticized and challenged by modern historians and readers. The Renaissance was a time of revival and great prosperity, but, the status of women did not change much from the Middle Ages. Education was scarce and both poor and noble ladies were expected to keep quiet and live behind the shadows of the men of the family.

Role of Women in the Renaissance Society

Renaissance women were given limited rights and loads of responsibilities as they used to help their fathers and husbands in family business. Women of poor, or peasant, class used to work in fields with their husbands, middle class women used to work with their husbands in shops, trade and other business and the women of high class were not required to work with their men. No matter which class or status, all women were expected to look after household tasks like sewing, cooking, child rearing and entertaining the guests.

Salon was an important and significant part of the Renaissance culture as it was through this that women made their contribution to the Renaissance culture. The salon was the place where literary and intellectual discussions were made and was often hosted by a high-born noble lady known as a salonniere. Women used to meet and discuss the matters and exchange their point of views on different matters, which were later published in the forms of books and pamphlets.

Isabella d’Este

Regarded as the most intelligent and strongest woman of the Renaissance period, a true Renaissance Lady, Isabella d’Esta was the wife of Francesco Gonzaga and a great female literary and intellectual figure of the Renaissance time. She was well versed with Greek and Latin and demonstrated great skill at dancing, singing and playing musical instruments. She had powerful influence over the Mantua court and it was because of her that the court became a melting pot of wit, intellect, art and literary elegance. She loved collecting beautiful and rare objects like paintings, sculptures and manuscripts. She played a pivotal role in the economy of Mantua and supported the development of textile and clothing industry.

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