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Women'S Education From The Rensaissance To The 18th Century

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Autor:  anton  22 March 2011
Tags:  Womens,  Education,  Rensaissance,  Century
Words: 648   |   Pages: 3
Views: 439

Women's education and potential for learning evolved from the Renaissance to the early 18th century. During the Renaissance, the Reformation, and the 17th and early 18th centuries, women's education slowly increased from period to period.

The Renaissance was a period in time where women were taught to how to govern a household, encouraged to abstain from sexual relations, and how to conduct herself in the social class into which her marriage would place her. Women were not supposed to attend formal schooling, except for daughters of nobility. In Erasmus's book "The Abbot and the Learned Lady", the lady in the story questions whether a "wife's business to manage the household and rear the children" is the correct understanding of women's role in society. The abbot agrees with her statement, which shows the mentality of what many believed in the Renaissance time period. Eventually, women were permitted to attend grammar school. Soon after that, private schools were established for women, but only those who could afford it were able to attend.

Moving into the Reformation, a closure in convents caused women to be deprived of a major occupation in which they had devoted their life to. These convents provided a unique opportunity for women's education but men viewed the closure as a way to save women from sexual repression. Outside of these convents, women were not allowed to speak in Church. Women attended due to it being an obligation and had to keep their opinions to themselves. Emond Auger, a French Jesuit, explained that "To learn essential doctrine, there is no need for the woman or artisan to take time out from their work and read the Old and New Testament. Then they'll want to dispute about it and give their opinion." This shows why women should be entitled to their own voice and opinion in which they are being exposed to material that they may not agree with. Martin Luther called for the education of women but to a certain extent. He expressed that women were made to stay at home and bear and raise children, for they were built in such a way; yet, he believed that women had the right to attain some intelligence.

The 17th and 18th centuries suffered a severe setback for women in education. Powerful men opposed the idea of women's education beyond reading and writing their names. Madame de Maintenon expressed to two women that she taught at her school in St. Cyr that "there is little point" in women learning to read or being able to write well. She claimed that "all [women] need is enough to keep their accounts and memoranda." Women were discouraged from expressing their views on any matter and were encouraged to focus on the household and the children. Many women wanted to express their views in politics, religion and more but most knew the consequences of such actions. Moliere, a French dramatist, wrote a play called "The Learned Ladies" which stated "Teaching her children good principles, running her household, keeping an eye on her servants, and managing her budget thriftily are all the study and philosophy she needs." This displays the norm of what many viewed as a women's duties and sole purpose. He goes on to say "Women today want to write books and become authors. In my house, they know all about the moon and the pole star and about Venus, etc." Moliere is showing the change in women's desires in which they are aspiring to be above the norm.

Women's education evolved from not having the potential to gain any knowledge to slowly allowing women to develop in their own education. This advancement proves helpful in the future of women's education in society. From the Renaissance to the 18th century, women began their escalation to a better tomorrow for themselves.


Mealey, Lorri. "Family Life During the Renaissance." 28 04 2007 27 April 2008 <http://weuropeanhistory.suite101.com/article.cfm/family_life_during_the_renaissance>.

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