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Women of the Anglo-Saxon Period

            The Anglo-Saxon period was one of relative freedom and contentment for all. This period was especially a bright time for women who maintained respected roles in marriage and work, as well as protection from sexual abuse and rape (Fell 5). Although they did not have the degree of freedom and autonomy that women have today, and they relied on the class or rank of their husband, Anglo-Saxon women thrived during this time. Depending on their rank in society, women were responsible for daily chores around the house, overseeing the slaves and storerooms, making clothes, and acting as hostess by making and serving drinks while men prepared the food (The Roles of Anglo Saxon Women 1). Therefore, even though women depended on their husband's status, they were sometimes able to own land and businesses, raise children, and generally oversee the household. Unfortunately, this period was interrupted by the Norman Conquest, which stunted women's freedoms and changed Anglo-Saxon society. The Norman invaders eliminated the Anglo-Saxon nobility by confiscating their land and property and essentially reducing them all to peasants. The Normans took control over inheritance of property and widows and daughters were compelled to marry Normans to maintain their property and status. This was a huge turning point and change in the Anglo Saxon community (Fell 104).
             Before the Norman Conquest, women had many advantages in marriage and work, and there were many laws against rape and abuse. Women were treated well and were protected by many laws and regulations of the time (Fell 12).
             Marriage was important to the Anglo-Saxons and was well-defined by many laws to protect women (Women in Anglo Saxon England 1). Although they were allowed to choose who they wanted to marry, many were persuaded to choose someone of a higher class because their social standing depended solely on their husband's class. Sometimes marriages were arranged to keep peace between two clans, but the woman still had the right to refuse the marriage proposal (Fell 62).

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