Marriage Impediments during the Byzantine Era

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The Byzantine era was rather typical, when one considers the lowly status assigned to women and the shoddy treatment they received. But for women belonging to the aristocracy, the situation was not quite as dismal as might be expected under the circumstances, as they were better protected than their less fortunate contemporaries.


It may be argued that this is an absurd notion, given that the institution of marriage largely subscribed to the repressive atmosphere of the time and was designed to subjugate women. However a study of intrepid ladies of the time reveals that using marriage as a tool, they were able to siphon off the lion's share of power enjoyed by men. A study of the prevailing conditions for women in the Byzantine era and the role played by marriage in giving them new opportunities to empower themselves will help support the thesis outlined above.
About the Byzantine Empire, Nicol says, "Its people and their rules were conservative by instinct" (1). Thus in keeping with the spirit of the times, women, regardless of their status were usually treated like commodities. The lowliest male slave had more advantages and prestige in the eyes of society than the highest - born lady. Most women had their feminine spirit destroyed by a life of unceasing servitude to their male masters, religious rigidity and a lack of opportunity to develop their talents. The church played a powerful role in subjugating women, "Canon law often contains legal stipulations limiting the actions of women in order to prevent defilement and impurity" (Viscuso 317). ...
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