Do you think the Reformation changed women's position in society during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries? Why?

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I would also like to add that it was a sad thing what the Reformation actually did to women: Because of women, the reformation spread around England precisely due to the passive role that women represented and their ability to convey a need for a change to their husbands. We know that Anne Boleyn was actually huge in the Reformation process by nagging Henry VIII forever to not take action against the abbeys, etc. and so was Jane Seymour.  The wives of reformers also were a solid component of the spread of the movement because, who would think a woman would dare to give a public speech on behalf of a cause? Therefore, they would use them as messengers, spies, and promoters of the philosophy.

However, the  first thing that occurred as a consequence of the Reformation was the suppression of convents, abbeys, nunneries, and saints whom were very important for women back in the day. God was more masculine than ever with the eradication of abbeys and abbesses, and the writings of  men of the time dictated the role of women as the neck of a body of which the man will always be the head.

So, in conclusion, the Reformation literally chewed, used, and spat out women.

englishteacher72 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It is ironic that the Reformation, a period seen by many as a time of religious liberation, actually further repressed the women living in that time period. This is mostly for several reasons. First, the male leaders of the Reformation went around shutting down many female convents. Since women's roles in that day included cooking, cleaning, and taking care of the family, the male leaders did not see why women should have the right to be religious leaders or be allowed to preach. Therefore, these rights, if they had ever even existed, were taken away. Many of these religious leaders were very sexist and did not think women should have any rights at all. They acted swiftly to ensure this was the case. I believe that women's rights varied from denomination to denomination, so you may want to look at those more closely, but overall, women had very little rights. Some denominations, however, allowed women to at least speak during meetings if they were so moved by God to do so.