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Question by Gema: ¿me podrias traducir este texto al castellano?
All of Henry VIII’s wives were fascinating, unique individuals, not only because of who they were, but also because of what they lived through.
Although they were Queens their power was restricted by the constraints put upon all women of the era.
To understand them we must understand those constraints.
Women were taught from birth they were inferior to men.
The concept of female inferiority predates Christianity. But Medieval and Renaissance society was shaped by the Church in ways that Westerners find hard to fathom nowadays. And the Church was shaped by Paul’s misogyny.
Women were taught, and believed, they were instruments of the devil. Females were the authors of original sin who lured men away from God and salvation.
Women were the only imperfection in God’s creation.
“Woman in her greatest perfection was made to serve and obey man”, John Knox, First Blast of the Trumpet against Monstrous Regiment of Women, 1558 (see Arts in Tudor England Page)
Young girls were given hardly any personal freedom.
Religion was at the very center of life in Tudor England. And girls were raised to obey their parents without question.
Girls were taught their only function in life was to marry and bear children.
They learned they were commanded by God to render unquestioning obedience to their husband and to learn in silence from him in all subjection, the same way they behaved at home to their parents.
Only 4 of Henry VIII’s 6 wives received any formal education: Katherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Anne of Cleves, and Katherine Parr. Jane Seymour and Katherine Howard were barely literate.
Most people in the first half of the 16th century didn’t believe in education for women. They held the medieval belief that teaching girls to read and write would cause them to waste their time and skills on love letters.
There are exceptions to that, though. Sir Thomas More saw to it all his daughters were educated. Lady Jane Grey was quite a scholar (“for a woman”). Katherine of Aragon and Katherine Parr were both educated and considered virtuous despite their education.
But the idea of education for women really begins as a Renaissance concept.
The education of girls was for the privileged and the rich. Its aim was to produce wives schooled in godly and moral precepts. It was not intended to promote independent thinking or problem solving.
Most girls were taught the wifely arts, how to manage a household, needlework, herbs and wild plants that could be used in healing, meal preparation, and their duty to their future husband. But foremost was their strong religious training.
Girls who were educated were generally taught by tutors hired by their father or male guardian. These tutors were generally clerics whose chief aim was to give the girl a strong foundation in religious dogma.
Husbands of upper class girls were chosen for them by their fathers or other male relatives. Very few men and women of noble birth chose their own partners.
Marriages were arranged for political reasons, to cement alliances, for riches, land, or status, and to forge bonds between two families. The idea of marrying for love was considered bizarre and foolish.
Royal marriages were contracted largely for political, military, or trade advantages. It sometimes happened that the couple never saw each other until the day of their wedding.
Kings allied themselves with other powers through marriage. They did not marry a subject for love. Edward IV married Elizabeth Woodville, a commoner, for love and the scandal spread throughout Europe. When their grandson Henry VIII married 4 women not of royal blood it passed almost without comment. Possibly because of a growing sense of English chauvinism.
What did cause comment was he married most of his wives for love, a departure from the norm. It could be said they were political marriages as well since there were factions within Henry VIII’s court that sought advantage through their master’s various unions.
Negotiations for royal marriages often took many years to finalize. They usually began during the childhood of one or both of the potential couple.
Royal courtship consisted of formal letters declaring love, and symbolic gifts, usually jewelry.
Usually the royal couple couldn’t meet because of distance. Kings had to rely on descriptions by ambassadors, and portraits painted by court painters. That sometimes backfired, as in the case of Anne of Cleves. Henry liked Holbein’s portrait, but didn’t like Anne at all.
There was no legal age for marriage. Marriage between children was not unknown. The usual age was around 14. No one questioned procreation at that age, since the life expectancy of women was about 30 years.
All but one of Henry’s wives were considered middle aged when th
Answer by lord of lords
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