Christianity and the Status of Women

This essay explores the effect Christianity had on the role and status of women in Western Europe from c.500 to c.1000 A.D.

The essay deals with the different roles of women in early medieval Europe and how they were affected by the spread of Christianity. Wives and the effect of new, Christianity inspired, marriage laws are discussed as well as the changing status of unmarried women, widows and female serfs. Female missionaries, nuns and saints all boosted the status of women. The role of Queens before and after the adoption of Christianity is covered, dealing with the positive and negative changes that took place. The essay concludes that overall Christianity had a positive effect on the role and status of women.500-1000A.D.
“The role and status of women in Western Europe between ca.500 and ca.1000 did change due to Christianity. However whether the female role and status in society was diminished or improved depends on a number of factors. Primarily, the type of woman in question must be taken into consideration. Queens, for example, were affected in a different way to female serfs. Secondly, we must also look at the role and status of women before the emergence of Christianity to make a valid judgment of change after ca.500. Thirdly, to a certain extent, the origin of the woman is a factor; Christianity affected different parts of Europe in a manner of different ways.”