Peasant women performed numerous duties, from tending fowl and sheep and a vegetable garden to brewing beer and assisting with the harvest.
Artisan wives did skilled craft work alongside their husbands, or did the work themselves during their husbands' absence.
A person's identity depended on his or her descent through the male line.
During the eleventh century this ideal was strengthened by reform movements within the church.
Therefore their lives were strictly regulated and controlled.
In contrast, peasant women generally had more freedom.
Wives, daughters, and even widows were actively involved in helping to support the family by maintaining the household and working along with men on the farm or in the shop.
Therefore it was not practical to regulate and control their lives.
The violation of a daughter's virginity brought dishonor not only on the girl, but also on all of her male kin.
Punishment often varied with the social standing of the woman's male relatives.
For example, the daughter of a nobleman was punished more severely than the daughter of a laborer because the nobleman had a more honored place in society.
In contrast, male roles were generally defined by social position or occupation—merchant, knight, priest, peasant, barrel maker, weaver, and so on.
Female roles were more sharply defined in upper-class society than in peasant society. Upper-class daughters, wives, and widows had a share in the family estate, so they were regarded mainly as a way to hold onto or expand.