Page:A short history of social life in England.djvu/59

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39
POSITION OF SAXON WOMEN

which was notified by the bride's shoe being delivered to the bridegroom, who touched her on the head with it in token of his supremacy over her.

With regard to this supremacy, girls were required to wear their hair long and loose before marriage, flowing locks being typical of their youth and freedom. After marriage the hair was cut short, like that of a slave, to show that a position of servitude had been accepted. As the social position of women advanced they rebelled against this idea, and obtained leave to bind it in folds and plaits close to the head.

It is a well-known fact that our forefathers systematically beat their wives. "Three blows with a broomstick" were considered salutary at times to keep them in order!

Notwithstanding this apparent subordination, women among the Angles and Saxons were greatly valued and respected, being encouraged to take their place in public affairs with even more freedom than is theirs to-day. While woman was still the "spinster," spinning the thread and weaving the wool of every garment worn by the men of the family, yet she was allowed to possess and inherit her own lands,