Women, Work, and Life Cycle: A Hypothesis Explored
This chapter explores more fully the structure of late medieval English society and examines the role women played in economic life. It compares and contrasts this with the post-medieval English evidence and some continental evidence, notably for Tuscany around the time of the great tax survey or catasto of 1427, a society that allowed women little economic or emotional independence. On one hand, it considers the issue of household and marriage in late medieval England. On the other hand, it considers the wider question of the relationship between movements in the economy. It proposes a new hypothesis that links increasing demand for female labour with greater autonomy for women in deciding when and whom to marry. This hypothesis suggests an essentially anti-Malthusian relationship between nuptiality and economic opportunity for women.
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