What was the most free and independent society for women in pre-modern times?

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
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SoCal
Christiantiy at least introduced an acceptable path (holy virginity) into a society that previously had only one option for women: marriage.
Interestingly enough, though, holy virginity meant permanently eliminating one's descendants from the gene pool. Or was it permissible for a woman to first marry and have children and only later become a nun? One would think that this would only be permissible if a woman's husband actually died beforehand, no?
 
Aug 2019
105
Netherlands
How much of Christianity's patriarchy came from Judaism and how much came from Rome? A little of both.
I don't see any indications that romans had a great cultural impact on their customs in germania, even at the borders, economically yes, but it would be strange that the oral frisian law, saxon law, bavari law etc, in favor of women, were recorded long after romans were gone. Killing or injuring a woman was penalised with compensation which could be up to 3 times higher than a men.
I don't see that fit to an increasing patriarchal society.

Earlier, batavians for example were important foederati and their society was highly militarised, but yet the whole domestic society at home was ran by women, including farming and everything what men normally in patriarchal society's do.

Christiantiy at least introduced an acceptable path (holy virginity) into a society that previously had only one option for women: marriage.
I don't think so. Girls didn't marry very young and free women could retain the same status as their fathers. Married women could retain the status of their husbands if they would decease.
 
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Willempie

Ad Honorem
Jul 2015
5,511
Netherlands
Interestingly enough, though, holy virginity meant permanently eliminating one's descendants from the gene pool. Or was it permissible for a woman to first marry and have children and only later become a nun? One would think that this would only be permissible if a woman's husband actually died beforehand, no?
Not really. The Franks for example were putting women in a convent when they weren't executing them for some reason. Ie Chilperic's first wife was put in one.
 
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Jul 2014
1,645
world
Tibetans had the most strong and free women in Asia. Tibetan women can be anything whe wants to be. There was no tribal or religious law stopping a women from becoming a traditional medecine doctor or a prostitue. One Tibetan women even became a war chief during the wars against the muslims in Qinghai when most of the male Tibetan nomad lords were killed in peace meeting. Many of business lords in Kangding were TIbetan women.

Tibetan women had property rights, did not have to take husbands clan name, can independently create her own new clan , take lovers and have child out of wedlock with no problems.

Even today you can see the stark difference between the status of TIbetan women and other ethnic groups In Xining where TIbetans, mongol, Kazakh, Huis and Salar all live together. Except Tibetans and the mongols all other women are subserviant to the males.
 
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Chlodio

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Aug 2016
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I don't see any indications that romans had a great cultural impact on their customs in germania, even at the borders, economically yes, but it would be strange that the oral frisian law, saxon law, bavari law etc, in favor of women, were recorded long after romans were gone. Killing or injuring a woman was penalised with compensation which could be up to 3 times higher than a men.
I don't see that fit to an increasing patriarchal society.
Because those laws do not reflect an increasing patriarchal society. Those laws reflect the baseline. The increasing patriarchy came later. You have to compare these first laws with what came next, after these barbarian peoples were exposed to Roman and Christian culture.

Those early law codes you mention were just a writing down of earlier oral law. In other words they reflect a mostly barbarian outlook. When these first law codes were updated or replaced in later times, I suspect they were far more patriarchal, reflecting increased Roman or Christian influence during the intervening years. I'm not familiar with the laws you cite, but I am familiar with Frankish law. The Frankish Salian Law, issued about the year 500, had two penalties for adultery - a lower fine for consensual adultery and a higher fine for nonconsensual adultery. The penalty was paid by the adulterous man, not the woman, but the woman consented or not to the adultery. The wronged husband received the payment. In the Ripuarian Law, issued about 100 years later, the penalty for consensual adultery disappeared. All adultery was assumed to be nonconsensual. During those 100 years women lost the legal right to consent to adultery. The husband's power over the wife increased. He became entitled to a higher fine, whether his wife was raped or not.

When I first mentioned that barbarians became more patriarchal as they became more Romanized, I wasn't limiting myself to the Roman Empire. I was talking more about the Roman legacy on Europe. I specifically mentioned barbarians before and after migration. Given that migration occurred more or less simultaneous with the fall of the Western Empire, I just assumed anyone reading that post would understand that post-migration barbarians were necessarily living in post-imperial times. It's long been accepted that the Middle Ages were a time of fusion between Roman, Christian, and barbarian traditions. The increasing patriarchy among barbarian peoples represents this fusion of Roman and Christian cultures with the previous barbarian culture. So yes, in the pre-migration era and in the immediate post-migration era the barbarians were less patriarchal, but as we come forward in time (and we're talking centuries here), and barbarians absorbed more Roman and Christian culture, they became more patriarchal. Sorry if I wasn't clear before.
 
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Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
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... was it permissible for a woman to first marry and have children and only later become a nun? One would think that this would only be permissible if a woman's husband actually died beforehand, no?
A woman with a living husband could become a nun but only with her husband's permission. The Church recognized a spouse's right to physical love. It worked both ways. Husbands could only take holy vows with their wives' permission.

Interestingly enough, though, holy virginity meant permanently eliminating one's descendants from the gene pool.
Frankish kings in particular were notorious for putting their daughters into nunneries specifically to prevent any descendants in the female line who might rival male line descendants for the throne. Kings with too many sons might also put some sons into the Church, again to limit the number of descendants who might become rivals for the throne. Funny how kings consider it their right to have as many children as they want, but they limit how many children their children are allowed to have. Of course we're not really talking about children - replace the words ' many children' with ' much sex' in the previous sentence, and you'll see what the kings were really about.
 

Devdas

Ad Honorem
Apr 2015
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India
The Khasi tribe of India has a society where women are given more prominence and kids carry mother's lineage.
 
Oct 2017
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America ??
How do we explain that our biological relatives, chimpanzees, gorillas & most primate societies it seems, are highly male dominated?