Today the Sebastian's Way blog tour stops at HF Connection with a guest post!
The Trouble with the Women
Writers are always warned not to project onto the past the rationality, attitudes, and customs of the present. Writers who do so are disingenuous and at risk of exposure. Nevertheless, observing that rule can be a severe handicap. So it was for me.
You see, over my lifetime, I was lucky to have been close to some very strong women who wielded a great deal of influence and made a significant difference in my life, and I wanted to use my experience of them in the book. The problem, however, was the same that it has been throughout most of history up to the modern era: women do not show up so well or as often in history as men do. And the farther back in history one goes, the worse it gets. That seemed especially true when I began to write about the eighth-century world of Charlemagne.
A popular philosophical view of women in that era was that they were innately weak and soft, unable to learn complexities, reason well, or control their sexual urges. Therefore they were subordinate to men. What is commonly known is that prostitution and concubinage were common and the double standard prevailed in the household. Unions of limited duration were recognized, and a man could divorce his wife for bad conduct (the particulars of such accusation being provided by the husband.) As for education for women, there wasn’t much available outside of convents, and that life was largely for widows, women wanting to escape a dreaded marriage, or those who were being discarded by their husbands. At the convent, it was possible for a woman to learn, but the fruit of her learning rarely had impact outside the cloister.
Not much of that fit what I wanted the women of Sebastian’s Way to be.
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The tour continues tomorrow with a review at Jorie Loves a Story.