Time would be spent learning how to dance and ride. Archery were also taught to young noble women. These young girls were expected to act as servants to the older ladies of the castle. The duties of the young noble women would be to look after clothes and the assist ladies with their dressing and coiffure. Some housewifely duties such as preserving fruits and household management would be taught, to prepare them for their duties as a married woman. High ranking young women would take on the role of ladies-in-waiting and were taught French. Young noble women would also be taught the principles of the Medieval Code of Chivalry and Courtly Love and would join the spectators at jousting tournaments.
The Age of Consent in the Middle Ages
The romance of Courtly love was completely opposite to the practicalities of Medieval marriage. The Age of Consent - With parental permission it was legal for boys to marry at fourteen and girls at twelve. A betrothal often took place when the prospective bride and groom were as young as 7 years old and in the case of Higher nobility many were betrothed as babies. But a marriage was only legal once the marriage had been consummated.
Noble Women Women and Marriage
Noble women had very little, if any, choice in who her husband might be. Marriages were frequently arranged so that both families involved would benefit. Marriages would be arranged to bring prestige or wealth to the family of noble women. Marriage for love was a rare occurrence. Noble women of the Middle Ages were expected to bring a dowry to the marriage. A dowry was an amount of money, goods, and property that the bride would bring to the marriage. The law gave a husband full rights over his wife, whether she was a Noble woman or a commoner. She effectively became his property. A wealthy marriage of a Noble woman was celebrated by nine days of feasting and jousting.
Married Noble Women of the Middle Ages
After marriage Noble women of the Middle Ages were expected to run the households but their main duty was to provide children. Large families were the norm in the Middle Ages as the mortality rate for children and babies was so high. Many Noble woman made arrangements for the care of their children in case they themselves died during childbirth. The life expectancy of a woman in the Middle Ages was just forty years. Most Medieval woman would become pregnant between 4 and 8 times. A woman during the Middle Ages would expect to lose at least one child.
Appearance of Noble Women of the Middle Ages
The appearance of a noble woman during the Middle Ages was important. A woman aged quickly during this era due to constant child bearing. Numerous pregnancies took their toll on a woman's body. The diet of noble women during the Middle Ages lacked Vitamin C which resulted in bad teeth and bleeding gums. To retain the appearance of youth a Noble woman of the middle Ages might even dye her hair yellow with a mixture of saffron, cumin seed, celandine and oil. Face make-up was applied to acquire a pale look. A pale complexion was so desirable that women were bled to achieve the desired look. Face paint made from plant roots and leaves was also applied.