Women in the History of Britain

History of the approval status of women from ancient times to the Middle Ages. Legislative regulation of the rights and obligations of women in the nineteenth century in England. A brief description of the life the most famous of the fairer sex.

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woman right status

1. Women in the ancient history. Celtic period

2. Women status in the Middle Ages

3. Women in the British Empire

4. Property Rights of Women in Nineteenth-Century England

5. Womens Rights

6. Personalities


Bibliographic list


History of the world is written by the great people. Biographies of these outstanding characters are worthy talking about to be taught numerous lessons. It so happens that most of these people are men and one can think it is men who drive the wheel of history. And thus it is even more interesting to find out that besides every great man turning the Wheel there have always been a great woman not letting the wheel get loose. That's why we think our topic is actual and intricating for those who likes History which itself is a Woman for it is called the Mother of All Science.

1. Women in the ancient history. Celtic period

The myths of the ancient Celts suggest the dominant role of the Celtic female, or at least they point up a society that was at one time matrifocused?that is, focused on women. Further, the evolution of these myths suggests a distinct shift in consc iousness shaped by the warrior ethos, Christianity and patriarchy. The female goddess, once held sacred, became violent. Her life-giving qualities brought instead only death and destruction. Consequently, female members of this society who had enjoyed much freedom and equal status among men, were made to suffer at the hands of violence as well. It is my belief that the Celtic woman, while certainly not a direct reflection of the Celtic goddess, was at one time honored for her life-giving ability, thou ght of as wise and treated as an individual. Mythology of the Celtic people does seem to suggest this.

"Women were highly honored, female symbolism formed the most sacred images in the religious cosmos, and the relationship with motherhood was the central elements of the social fabric - the society was held together by common allegiance to the customs of the tribe loosely organized around the traditions of the goddess"

In the myths that survive what appears to come through quite loud and clear is the diversity of the women in the stories. These women are intelligent, brave, beautiful, chaste, passive, romantic, aggressive, crafty, sexual, wise, sensible - they represent a whole range of personality types, just as in real life. All of the women have characteristics which give them roundness, and make them believable female prototypes.

Another interesting case for the elevated status of Celtic women, especially Irish, is found in their surprisingly progressive early codes of law. Ellis discusses the Celtic woman's freedoms in some detail. First, children had status and worth, they also had the opportunity for education, with no discrimination against gender. Children were to be brought up by both parents. If the child was a product of rape, the child had to be the responsibility of the man alone. Most importantly, however, was: the woman's eligibility to inherit property; retain the wealth she brought into a marriage; take part in the military and political activities of the clan; divorce (in eleven different cases); engage in polygamy for almost any reason; seek recourse for rape or assault; and face the same punishment as a man for homicide.

It is easy to point the finger at men and their violent ways as reasons for the disruption of peace in the world, but of course matters are not so simple. We can see some evidence of the violence of women as well. It is certainly not limited to men alone. Equal status for women is important and almost always elusive in any society. Perhaps some (myself included) wish to look to the past for evidence of a better time for women and the world. We look for reasons as to why the world has become so violent and blood thirsty. It is indeed grasping at straws to lay the blame on one particular group for causing all of the world's problems.

2. Women status in the Middle Ages

Women were seen by many to be inferior to men during the middle ages. The church taught them that they should be meek and obedient to their fathers and husbands. In reality however very few of the women could stay quietly at home because most had to work for a living in the fields beside their husbands and fathers whilst at the same time feeding and clothing their families. The wives and daughters of craftsmen were frequently employed and operated as tradeswomen in their own right. However very few women became powerful enough to have any bearing on national events.

In the towns, women worked in a variety of occupations. They might be shopkeepers, spinners, bakers or "alewives" who brewed ale. Both married and unmarried women were expected to work for a living, Often they would combine several jobs as they were paid less than men.

Young single women often wore their hair loose but married women were expected to keep their hair covered at all times in a linen "wimple" as a sign of modesty. Single women often earned a living from spinning cotton, using hand held spindles (the spinning wheel didn't arrive from India until the 13th Century). They subsequently became known as spinsters and this name has stuck over the years to mean unmarried woman.

Many unmarried women entered convents and nunneries where they lived their lives in a similar way to a monk. Nunneries offered women the opportunity to lead a devout life and also to obtain an education and take on responsibilities denied to them in the outside world. As local landowners and employers, many abbesses were important figures in the community.

In fact landowners be they male or female were powerful figures in medieval society, and an unmarried woman of property had an equal right to men. She could make a will and sign documents with her own seal. However when a woman married she forfeit all her land and rights to her husband. On his death she was entitled to one third of his land upon which to support herself.

The Middle Ages encompass one of the most exciting periods in English History. The names of famous Kings scatter the History books. But behind every famous King of the Middle Ages was a famous woman - the Medieval Queens or Princesses. Who were the women who were the wives of these famous English Kings? Which famous women of the Middle Ages married men such as William the Conqueror, Richard the Lionheart, King Henry II and King Edward III? Who were the women who ruled during the Hundred Years War between England and France? What were the names of the women who helped to rule the Royal Houses of Lancaster and York during the Wars of the Roses? These Middle Ages women who included many Queens and Princesses and mistresses who shared the most powerful positions with their husbands and lovers. Many held extremely important influence over their sons. The Medieval women of the Middle Ages had to be strong their lives cover the vicious Medieval periods from 1066 - 1485. Learn about the Mystics and the Mistresses, the Rich and the poor women of the Middle Ages. The women of the Middle Ages were totally dominated by the male members of their family. The women were expected to instantly obey not only their father, but also their brothers and any other male members of the family. Any unruly girls were beaten into submission and disobedience was seen as a crime against religion. The following section details the life, marriage and children of noble women in the Middle Ages. If we use only the writings of chroniclers, we are left to assume that a woman's main importance was in connection with marriage and children. Household accounts furnish great detail on the life of a noblewoman especially on her style of living, her social connections, and her standing within the community. The public sphere was considered to be the domain of men. This sphere included politics, legal rights and obligations, and the market. Therefore, this seems to have been the sphere of real power and authority. The private (domestic) sphere was generally considered the domain of woman. The private sphere included wives, mothers, family, and immediate household. The information above helps us understand why women had little access to public power but it also shows us why it was necessary for women to sometimes use other means to control their surroundings to their desired end. A point to think on is, we should not underestimate the fact that a woman's self-interest may have been the driving force in her pursuit of influence (power). The use of affection within her household gave her influence because it could directly result in loyalty to her. Wifely persuasion could be used as in the instance of convincing a spouse to donate funds to the church. Her offspring could also be influenced through her motherly guidance. One not so attractive, her use of sexual attraction to influence not only her husband but also other members of the opposite sex, may work to her benefit.

In the public realm, participation in politics and public offices was restricted to men. Women could not be tithing representatives, be pledges in court, bring litigation, or plead courts until a widow and termed "femme sole". They were also excluded from the office of aletester regardless of the fact that they, as brewers, were best qualified and most knowledgeable. Enforcement records of the assize of bread and ale show that women were some of the most active of commercial brewers and bakers in the countryside. This again, is an example of the importance at the time of barring women from powerful positions. A woman's public power however, always stopped short of sanctioned authority.

There was an actual life cycle to a woman's authority. As a maid, her power grew with the inheritance of land. As a wife, this power waned with marriage. With her marriage, her lands and legal status went to her husband. As a widow, it increased again by becoming the head of the household. Widows, owed suit to court, answered complaints and pursued litigation without the intervention of a man. Widows were sought after for marriage. If a man could convince a widow to marry him it could mean an increase in power and wealth among influential families for himself and his family. Once widowed, she was responsible for her own lands until she remarried. Many chose to remain widows, a reasonable choice under the circumstances. She was restricted but not as oppressed as movies and many romantic fiction novels would have us believe. Medieval women were very similar to the women of today, looking out for the interests of her family and working to have a voice in her society.

3. Women in the British Empire

While British women in the empire were always outnumbered by British men, from the beginning of empire women traveled to many sites of empire, where they established homes and found opportunities and a way of life not available to them in Britain.

In evaluating the role of British women in the empire, it is important to differentiate between colonies in Africa and India and white settler colonies where the situation of British women was substantially different. In Australia, where the number of British settlers rapidly outnumbered the indigenous population, men substantially outnumbered women, especially in the early stages of white settlement.

In India, British women enjoyed a way of life that would not have been possible for most of them at home.

The relationship between British women and colonized women was complicated by a number of factors. For most British women, the empire provided a place of possibility where they could experience a range of opportunities denied them in Britain. At the same time, until well into the 20th century, white women were not allowed to work outside the domestic sphere in empire, except in very specific occupations usually closed to British men, such as the education of colonized women.

A number of British women did seek to alleviate the situation of colonized women through missionary work, education, and medicine.

Following the end of World War II, increasing numbers of women from former colonies moved to live in Britain, to work in a wide range of jobs, notably nursing. For many, Britain was seen as a place of economic possibility, although most of the jobs were low paying.

4. Property Rights of Women in Nineteenth-Century England

The property rights of women during most of the nineteenth century were dependent upon their marital status. Once women married, their property rights were governed by English common law, which required that the property women took into a marriage, or acquired subsequently, be legally absorbed by their husbands. Furthermore, married women could not make wills or dispose of any property without their husbands' consent.

Unmarried women, legally identified as feme sole, had complete legal control of their own property. They had the right to dispose of their property and only used the assistance of a legal guardian if they chose.

The legal status of married women prevented them from unilaterally participating in the civil legal system.

The laws that allowed married women to recapture property rights through widowhood were revised in the early nineteenth century. Once widowed, women were entitled to a dower, which was usually equivalent to one third of the husband's estate

Although widows were prevented from amassing great amounts of wealth, through their repositioned legal status of feme sole, they reclaimed legal power over their property.

Caroline Norton proved to be a catalyst for changing women's property rights laws in Victorian England. Caroline Norton was determined to use her personal misfortune and suffering to gather support for legal reform.

1. a married woman has no legal existence whether or not she is living with her husband;

2. her property is his property;

3. she cannot make a will, the law gives what she has to her husband despite her wishes or his behavior;

4. she may not keep her earnings;

5. he may sue for restitution of conjugal rights and thus force her, as if a slave to return to his home;

6. she is not allowed to defend herself in divorce;

7. she cannot divorce him since the House of Lords in effect will not grant a divorce to her;

8. she cannot sue for libel;

9. she cannot sign a lease or transact business;

10. she cannot claim support from her husband, his only obligation is to make sure she doesn't land in the parish poorhouse if he has means;

11. she cannot bind her husband to any agreement.

In 1857, The Divorce and Matrimonial Causes Act was passed, establishing new divorce and matrimonial property laws.

Property Bills were introduced in Parliament. In 1882, the twenty-seven year campaign for women's property rights culminated in the Married Women's Property Act of 1882. The Act, according to Stetson, "altered the common law doctrine of coverture to include the wife's right to own, buy, and sell her separate property".

5. Womens Rights

During the whole of the nineteenth century, women had no political rights though there had been some movement in other areas to advance the rights of women.

In 1839, a law was passed which stated that if a marriage broke down and the parents separated, children under seven years of age should stay with their mother.

In 1857, women could divorce husbands who were cruel to them or husbands who had left them.

In 1870, women were allowed to keep money they had earned.

In 1891, women could not be forced to live with husbands unless they wished to.

In the later years of the nineteenth century, women wanted one very basic right - the right to vote.

6. Personalities in British history


Queen of the Iceni, a people who lived in the present-day counties of Norfolk and Suffolk. She led a rebellion against the Roman authorities as a result of their mistreatment of her family and people after the death of her husband, Prasutagus, who may have been a Roman client-ruler, in 60 AD.

Boudicca, assisted by other disaffected tribes, sacked the cities of Colchester, St. Albans and London and, it is estimated, massacred approximately 70,000 Roman soldiers and civilians in the course of the glorious, but ill-fated rebellion. The rebels were finally defeated in battle by a force led by the Roman governor of Britain, Suetonius Paulinus, after which Boudicca took her own life by ingesting poison. A memorial statue by Thorneycroft of Boudicca, riding in her war chariot, stands alongside the Thames River in London, in the shadow of Big Ben.

Catherine of Aragon

The youngest surviving child of the 'Catholic Kings' of Spain, Catherine was born on 16 December 1485, the same year that Henry VII established the Tudor dynasty. At the age of three, she was betrothed to his infant son, Prince Arthur. In 1501, shortly before her sixteenth birthday, Catherine sailed to England. But her marriage to Arthur lasted less than six months and was supposedly never consummated. Catherine was then betrothed to Arthur's younger brother, Prince Henry. When he became king in 1509, at the age of eighteen, he promptly married Catherine and they lived together happily for many years. But their marriage produced just one living child, a daughter called Mary, and Henry was desperate for a male heir. He also fell deeply in love with another woman. Cast aside, Catherine fought against great odds to deny Henry an annulment. But the king would not be denied and when the Catholic church would not grant the annulment, he declared himself head of a new English church. Catherine was banished from court and died on 7 January 1536, broken-hearted but still defiant.

Anne Boleyn

Anne Boleyn, the second Queen of Henry VIII, was the daughter of Sir Thomas Boleyn, afterwards Earl of Wiltshire, and Lady Elizabeth Howard. Anne was thus the maternal niece of Henry's courtier-statesman, the Duke of Norfolk. She spent some years at the French Court, before 1522, when she first seems to have attracted the notice of King Henry. Her elder sister, Mary, was, for a short time, the King's mistress at about that date. Anne was sought in marriage by the heir of the Percys and was perhaps privately contracted to him. By 1525, however, the King was secretly courting her.

At what date Anne actually became the King Henry's mistress we do not know for certain. From 1527 onwards, it was publicly known that Henry was seeking a divorce from Catherine of Aragon and it soon became evident that, in spite of Wolsey's remonstrances, he intended Anne to take her place as Queen. She travelled about with him and had magnificent apartments fitted up for her wherever he was until her marriage with him, which took place privately some time on 25th January 1533. We do not even know precisely where the marriage took place - either Whitehall or Westminster - or by whom it was celebrated. But it was made public at Easter and Cranmer, as Archbishop, held an inquiry into its validity, in favour of which he pronounced. Anne was crowned with great magnificence on Whit Sunday.

The hatred of all but the most servile courtiers for Anne and for all the Boleyns was open and avowed. Her only surviving child, afterwards Queen Elizabeth I, was born in the September. But Henry was already tired of Anne and it is pretty clear that she was but a vulgar coquette of neither wit nor accomplishments and, strange to say, without any extraordinary beauty. As to her chastity, both before and after her marriage, it is difficult to pronounce with certainty. Acts of adultery, and even of incest, were alleged against her at her trial, which took place before a court of peers, with her uncle, the Duke of Norfolk, as president, in May 1536; but, though sentence was unanimously given against her, it could hardly be called a fair trial, as some of her alleged accomplices had been previously convicted and put to death. She was beheaded on Tower Hill on 19th May 1536.

Mary I of Scotland

Mary Stuart was born at Linlithge Palace on Dec 8th, 1542, 6 days later she became the Queen of Scotland. Her French mother sent her to France in 1548, at the age of 6. In April of the year 1558, she got married to Francis the second of France. In July of the year 1559, Francis became King of France and Mary became Queen of France. Even though at the same time she was Queen of Scotland. Soon after her greedieness grew and wanted to take over England.

Mary tried to claim the English thrown in the year 1558. Her claim was based on that she was the grandaughter of Margret Tudor. As well as Mary wanting to claim the English thrown, so did Elizabeth the first. To the Romans Cathlics Mary's claim apperared stronger than Elizabeth. Mary who was about to become 18 years of age was left in a difficult position.

Mary was unwilling to stay in France so she went back to Scotland. There her husband died and she was convicted of his murder. She was put in jail, yet was able to escape with the help of friends. This left a large force behind Mary. At this point Mary decided to leave Scotland and go to England for support.

Mary had a bad ending. While she was in convicted in England numerous plots by the English Roman Cathlics envolved around her. The Babinton plot,the assasination of Eliabeth, was formend to trap Mary. Later Mary was found guilty and beheaded on Feb 8th 1587. The last thing Mary did before she was beheaded was she wrote a letter. She wrote the letter six hours before she was beheaded at Fortherhinghay Castle. This letter contained four pages written to her brother-in-law, Henry III king of France. She wrote the letter in French, yet it has been translated to English. She had a hard life in all.

Mary had a hard life trying to keep her thrones. Mary was Queen of Scotland from the year 1542 to the year 1567. She was also Queen of Frace from the year 1559 to the year 1560. Aswell as Queen of Scotland and Queen of France she also tried to take over the English throne in th year 1558. In conclution, Mary had a hard life trying to keep her thrones.

Elizabeth I of England

Elizabeth I was born on September 7, 1533 at Greenwich Palace, London, England, an estate of her Father, King Henry VIII. Elizabeth's mother was Henry's second wife, Anne Boleyn. Elizabeth became Queen of England in 1558 and reigned until her death in 1603. Her reign is often called the Golden Age of England because it was a time of great achievement and prosperity.

Elizabeth never married. She entertained both Protestant and Catholic suitors while committing to no one. She used her single status as a policy tool. By entertaining Catholic suitors she kept hostile Catholic monarchs at bay, and English Catholics loyal to her government. At one point it appeared she was interested in one of her subjects, Sir Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. She avoided entering a marriage with Sir Robert because the match lacked any political benefits.

Elizabeth succeeded in furthering England's interests in the face of foreign threats and religious unrest at home. Highlights of her reign include making the Church of England (a Protestant denomination) the state religion, while avoiding war with the powerful Roman Catholic nations of Europe; the English navy defeated of the Spanish Armada; English merchant ships challenged Spanish preeminence on the high seas; the first settlers were sent to America to open the way for a great colonial empire, and England's economy flourished. The English court became a center for writers, musicians, and scholars. English literature thrived during this period, with Francis Bacon composing his Essays, and William Shakespeare writing his great works of drama and poetry.

Problems at home marked the end of Elizabeth's reign. The Irish rebelled and Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex led a rebellion against the government. On March 23, 1603, Elizabeth died. When she came to power England was an insignificant country. When she died it was a major European power. Elizabeth was the last legitimate decendant of Henry VIII. She was succeeded by James I, son of Mary Queen of Scots and her second husband, Elizabeth's cousin Lord Darnley.

Victoria of the United Kingdom

In 1837 Queen Victoria took the throne after the death of her uncle William IV. Due to her secluded childhood, she displayed a personality marked by strong prejudices and a willful stubbornness.

Barely eighteen, she refused any further influence from her domineering mother and ruled in her own stead. Popular respect for the Crown was at a low point at her coronation, but the modest and straightforward young Queen won the hearts of her subjects. She wished to be informed of political matters, although she had no direct input in policy decisions. The Reform Act of 1832 had set the standard of legislative authority residing in the House of Lords, with executive authority resting within a cabinet formed of members of the House of Commons; the monarch was essentially removed from the loop. She respected and worked well with Lord Melbourne (Prime Minister in the early years of her reign) and England grew both socially and economically.

On Feb 10th, 1840, only three years after taking the throne, Victoria took her first vow and married her cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. Their relationship was one of great love and admiration. Together they bore nine children - four sons and five daughters: Victoria, Bertie, Alice, Alfred, Helena, Louise, Arthur, Leopold, and Beatrice.

Prince Albert replaced Melbourne as the dominant male influence in Victoria's life. She was thoroughly devoted to him, and completely submitted to his will. Victoria did nothing without her husband's approval. Albert assisted in her royal duties. He introduced a strict decorum in court and made a point of straitlaced behavior. Albert also gave a more conservative tinge to Victoria's politics. If Victoria

was to insistently interject her opinions and make her views felt in the cabinet, it was only because of Albert's teachings of hard work.

The general public, however, was not enamored with the German prince; he was excluded from holding any official political position, was never granted a title of peerage and was named Prince Consort only after seventeen years of marriage.. His interests in art, science, and industry spurred him to organize the Crystal Palace Exhibition in 1851, a highly profitable industrial convention. He used the proceeds, some ?186,000, to purchase lands in Kensington for the establishment of several cultural and industrial museums.

Reflecting back into her childhood, Victoria was always prone to self pity. On Dec. 14th 1861 Albert died from typhoid fever at Windsor Castle. Victoria remained in self-imposed seclusion for ten years. This genuine, but obsessive mourning kept her occupied for the rest of her life and played an important role in the evolution of what would become the Victorian mentality.

Her popularity was at its lowest by 1870, but it steadily increased thereafter until her death. In 1876 she was crowned Empress of India by Disraeli. In 1887 Victoria's Golden Jubilee was a grand national celebration of her 50th year as Queen. The Golden Jubilee brought her out of her shell, and she once again embraced public life. She toured English possessions and even visited France (the first English monarch to do so since the coronation of Henry VI in 1431).

Victoria's long reign witnessed an evolution in English politics and the expansion of the British Empire, as well as political and social reforms on the continent. France had known two dynasties and embraced Republicanism, Spain had seen three monarchs and both Italy and Germany had united their separate principalities into national coalitions. Even in her dotage, she maintained a youthful energy and optimism that infected the English population as a whole.

The national pride connected with the name of Victoria - the term Victorian England, for example, stemmed from the Queen's ethics and personal tastes, which generally reflected those of the middle class.

Nancy Astor, Viscountess Astor

She was the first woman to take a seat in the British House of Commons.

Nancy Astor was born in 1879 in Virginia, one of five sisters (and two brothers). One of her sisters married the artist Charles Dana Gibson, who immortalized his wife as the "Gibson girl."

Nancy Astor's father was a Confederate officer. After the war he became a tobacco auctioneer. During her early childhood, the family was poor and struggling; as she became an adolescent, her father's success brought the family wealth. Her father refused to send her to college, a fact that Nancy Astor resented.

In October 1897, Nancy Astor married society Bostonian Robert Gould Shaw. They had one son before they separated in 1902, divorcing in 1903.

Nancy Astor then went to England. On a ship, she met Waldorf Astor, whose American millionaire father had become a British lord. They married in London on April 19, 1906, and Nancy Astor moved with Waldorf t the family home in Cliveden, where she proved an adept and popular society hostess. In the course of their marriage, they had four sons and one daughter. In 1914 the couple, who also shared a birthdate, converted to Christian Science.

Waldorf and Nancy Astor became involved in reform politics, part of a circle of reformers around Lloyd George. In 1909 Waldorf stood for election to the House of Commons as a Conservative from a Plymouth constituency; he lost the election but won on his second try, in 1910. The family moved to Plymouth when he won. Waldorf served in the House of Commons until 1919, when, at his father's death, he became a Lord and thereby became a member of the House of Lords.

Nancy Astor decided to run for the seat that Waldorf vacated, and she was elected in 1919. Constance Markiewicz had been elected to the House of Commons in 1918, but chose not to take her seat. Nancy Astor was the first woman to take a seat in Parliament -- the only woman MP until 1921.

Her campaign slogan was "Vote for Lady Astor and your children will weigh more." She worked for temperance, women's rights, and children's rights. Another slogan she used was "If you want a party hack, don't elect me."

Nancy Astor was an opponent of socialism and, later during the Cold War, an outspoken critic of communism. She was also an anti-fascist. She refused to meet Hitler though she had an opportunity. Waldorf met with him about the treatment of Christian Scientists and came away convinced that Hitler was mad.

Despite their opposition to fascism and the Nazis, the Astors supported economic appeasement of Germany, supporting the lifting of economic sanctions against Hitler's regime.

During World War II, Nancy Astor was noted for her morale-boosting visits to her constituents, especially during German bombing raids. She just missed being hit once, herself. She also served, unofficially, as hostess to American troops stationed at Plymouth during the build-up to the Normandy invasion.

In 1945, Nancy Astor left Parliament, at her husband's urging, and not entirely happily. She continued to be a witty and sharp critic of social and political trends when she disapproved, including both communism and the American McCarthy witch-hunts.

She largely withdrew from public life with the death of Waldorf Astor in 1952. She died in 1964.

In 1923, Nancy Astor published "My Two Countries", her own story.

Margaret Thatcher

Margaret Thatcher was born Britain's first female prime minister. A graduate of Somerville College, Oxford, with a master of arts degree from the University of Oxford she worked as a

research chemist and a barrister, concentrating on tax law, before being elected to the House of Commons in 1953. She held several ministerial appointments including education minister (1970-74). Elected leader of her Party (the Opposition) in 1975, she became prime minister in 1979. Known as a strong leader and an "astute Parliamentary tactician, she knew how to handle disagreement, no matter from which bench it issued.

In 1982 she ordered British troops to the Falkland Islands to retake them from Argentina. She took a strong stand against the trade unions during the miner's strike (1984-85), and moved Britain toward privatization, selling minor interests in public utilities to the business interests. She also introduced "rate capping" which effectively took control of expenditures out of the hands of city councils, part of her policies aimed at reducing the influence of local governments. In 1989, she introduced a community poll tax. In 1990, her cabinet was divided over issues including the European Community which forced her resignation. In 1992, she entered the House of Lords, created Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven. Her memoirs are being published by HarperCollins. The first volume, "The Downing Street Years" was published in 1993.

Diana, Princess of Wales

Lady Diana Frances Spencer, (Diana Frances Mountbatten-Windsor, nee Spencer) (July 1, 1961-August 31, 1997) was the first wife of Charles, Prince of Wales. From her marriage in 1981 to her divorce in 1996 she was styled "Her Royal Highness The Princess of Wales". After her divorce from the Prince of Wales in 1996 Diana ceased to be the Princess of Wales and also lost the resulting Royal Highness style. She received the title normally used by the ex-wives of peers, Diana, Princess of Wales under Letters Patent issued by Queen Elizabeth II at the time of the divorce.

Diana was often called Princess Diana by the media and the public, but she did not possess such a title and was not personally a princess, a point Diana herself made to people who referred to her as such. Contrary to belief, being Princess of Wales does not make one a princess in one's own right. It merely indicates that one was married to a Prince of Wales. Princesses in their own right only exist by creation of the monarch or by birth. Diana was in fact the first non-princess to be Princess of Wales for centuries. Previous Princesses of Wales, such as Alexandra of Denmark or Mary of Teck were already princesses by birth when they married a Prince of Wales. An iconic presence on the world stage, Diana, Princess of Wales was noted for her pioneering charity work. Yet her philanthropic endeavours were overshadowed by her scandal-plagued marriage to Prince Charles. Her bitter accusations via friends and biographers of adultery, mental cruelty and emotional distress visited upon her, and her own admission of adultery and numerous love affairs riveted the world for much of the 1990s, spawning books, magazine articles and television movies.

From the time of her engagement to the Prince of Wales in 1981 until her death in a car accident in 1997, the Princess was arguably the most famous woman in the world, the pre-eminent female celebrity of her generation: a fashion icon, an image of feminine beauty, admired and emulated for her high-profile involvement in AIDS issues, and the international campaign against landmines. During her lifetime, she was often referred to as the most photographed person in the world. To her admirers, the Princess of Wales was a role model - after her death, there were even calls for her to be nominated for sainthood - while her detractors saw her life as a cautionary tale of how an obsession with publicity can ultimately destroy an individual.


Fatal contradistinction between man as "a master", "a maker of destinies" to woman as a minor creature "made of Adam's rib" is the reason of the discharmony of social structure. There was no equality between this to entities in remote ages. Woman didn't have independence. She was a slave performing her family duties. One paradox should be mentioned here: the more woman was worshipped at some space of time, the more humiliating and subordinate position they really had.

As an instance, we could refer to Middle Ages. Little is known about the life of women of Britain in that period, but without doubt it was hard. The Church tought that women shoukd obey their husbands. It also spread two different ideas about women: that they should be pure and holy like the Virgin Mary; and that,like Eve, they could not be trusted and were a moral danger and a moral danger to men. Such religious teaching led men both to worship and also to look down on women, and led women to give in to men's authority.

Marriage was usually the single most important event in the lives of men and women. But the decision itself was by the family, not the couple themselves. This was because by marriage a couple themselves. This was because by marriage a family could improve its wealth and social position. Everyone, both rich and poor, married for mainly financial reasons. Once married, a woman had to accept her husband as a master. A disobedient wife was usually beaten. It is unlikely that love played much of a part in most marriages.

The first duty of every wife was to give her husband chidren, preferably sons. Because so many children died as babies, and because there was little that could be done if a birth was wrong, producing children was dangerous and exhausting. Yet this was the future for every wife from twenty or younger until she was forty.

The wife of a noble had other responsibilities. When her lord was away, she was in charge of the manor and the village lands, all the servants and villagers, the harvest and the animals. She also had to defend the manor if it was attacked. She was to run the household, welcome visitors, and store enough food, including salted meat, for winter. She was expected to have enough knowledge of herbs and plants to make suitable medicines those in the village who were sick. She probably visited the poor and the sick in the village, showing that the rules "cared" for them. She had little time her own children, who in any case were often sent away at the age of eight to another manor, "the boys to be made into men".

Most women, of course, were peasants, busy making food, making cloth and making clothes from the cloth. They worked in the fields, looked after their children, after animals.

A woman's position improved if her husband died. She could get control of the money her family had given the husband at the time of marriage, usually about one-third of his total land and wealth. But might have to marry again: men wanted her land, and it was was difficult to look after it without the help of a man.

However in Britain since long ago there've been women who managed to change the march of history, those who were not afraid to struggle for their rights, struggle against prejudices. And we would like to tell you about the most outstanding women of Great Britain whose names have become inprescriptible part of its history.

Bibliographic list

1) Ellis Berresford, Peter. Celtic Women [Текст] / P.E.Berresford. - London : Constable, 1995.

2) May, Trevor. An Economic and Social History of Britain: 1760-1970 [Текст] / T.May. - New York : Longman, 1987.

3) Morrison, Nancy Brysson. Mary, Queen of Scots [Текст] / N.B.Morrison. - New York : Vanguard Press, 1960.

4) Shanley, Mary Lyndon. Feminism, Marriage, and the Law in Victorian England, 1850-1895 [Текст] / M.L.Shanley. - Princeton : Princeton UP, 1989.

5) Walker, Emery. Historical portraits [Текст] / E.Walker, C.R.L.Fletcher, H.B.Butler. - Oxford : Clarendon Press, 1909.

6) Webster Wilde, Lyn. Celtic Women in Legend, Myth and History [Текст] / L.W.Wilde. - London : Blandford Pr, 1997.


7) Anne Boleyn (1502-1536) [Веб-документ] / http://www.britannia.com/bios/aboleyn.html

8) Elizabeth I of England [Веб-документ] / http://www.lucidcafe.com/library/95sep/elizabeth.html.

9) Katharine of Aragon [Веб-документ] / http://englishhistory.net/tudor/monarchs/aragon.html.

10) Margaret Thatcher [Веб-документ] / http://www.britannia.com/gov/primes/prime56.html.

11) Mary Stuart, Queen Of Scots [Веб-документ] / http://www.ctbw.com/maryscot.htm.

12) Nancy Astor [Веб-документ] / http://womenshistory.about.com/od/morepoliticalfigures/p/nancy_astor.htm

13) Princess Diana Biography [Веб-документ] / http://www.biographyonline.net/people/biography_princess_diana.html.

14) Queen Of Iceni Boudicca [Веб-документ] / http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~whosyomama/2/21382.htm.

15) Queen Victoria (1819-1901) [Веб-документ] / http://www.victorianstation.com/queen.html.

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