Page:A short history of social life in England.djvu/151

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.

to the merry parties on horseback that wended their way ceaselessly along the bad roads either on pilgrimage or for purposes of merchandise. Indeed, the equality of the sexes is a characteristic feature of the Middle Ages. Men and women from the cradle to the grave shared life equally and naturally, neither was there any idea at this time of debarring them from taking their part in public affairs. Boys and girls were educated together, they had their games in common; together they hunted, together they went shooting. It was also an age of romance, of love-making and of great immorality, for the which both sexes were punished equally. Women took part in the pilgrimages; they took their place in the growing world of trade. They were members of the old social and religious gilds established for good fellowship during life, for due burial, prayers, and Masses after death, and the charitable assistance of needy survivors. Thus the Gild of Corpus Christi, Hull, was founded in the fourteenth century by eighteen men and twenty-five women, while the Gild of the Holy Cross, Stratford-on-Avon, had half its members men, and half women. The Trades Gilds also admitted