Roman Women and their Legal Rights

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The study of woman and their legal rights have been studied and analyzed over time. Restrictions on the amount of education woman can receive, woman?s political power and their roles in family life have all changed throughout history and continue to change still today. In some cultures, woman are inferior to men such as during the time of the Early Roman Republic when society was dominated by males.

In Early Rome, woman were not given a whole lot of rights or power. Throughout the woman?s life in Early Rome she was under the control of a male. When she is born, until the time of marriage, a woman is under the control of her father. Then, the woman?s father, by right of manus (hand) gave the control of the woman to her husband when she was married. It wasn?t until later that a form of marriage became popular that allowed the father to continue to have control over his daughter even after she was married.

This form of marriage gave the woman greater independence and more right of inheritance in her father?s family. The Roman states granted women even fewer rights than had the Greek states but probably permitted them greater personal freedom. The men were granted extensive rights over the woman, however Roman culture never expressed deep hostility toward female sexuality, nor a big contrast between the sexes.

Although in Early Rome marriage with manus was the most common, women of the upper classes still had a position of influence and respect. ?She was mistress within the home, controlling access to the storerooms, keeping the accounts, and supervising the slaves and the raising of the children? (Kagan 115). Unfortunately, only small portions of women were gaining individual power and influence. The great majority of them still lived short, brutish and uneducated lives under the authority of their husband or father.

Even though there is not much evidence of how much education was provided to the average woman in Early Rome, it is known that the girls in the upper classes did receive education equivalent at least to the early stages of a boys education. It is believed that the women were most likely taught by private tutors in their house, instead of actually going to school. Some woman became writers and poets and others found ways to continue their education.

As time went by the rights of women improved. Woman in the upper classes had achieved a considerable degree of independence and influence. Some of the women became wealthy through inheritance and also were very well educated. It also became common to see marriages without the husbands right of manus.

In later centuries women?s right were expanded even more. They were permitted to make wills and inherit from children. Also, one of their large turning points was at the turn of the fourth century when the Emperor Domitian freed women from the need for guardianship. This had a large impact on the freedom and rights of woman.

Throughout history women have fought in different ways for freedom and power in society. During 195 B.C.E., Roman women staged a political protest to demand the repeal of a law passed two decades earlier during the Second Punic War. The law carried that ?no woman should possess more than half an ounce of gold or wear a part-coloured garment or ride in a carriage in the City or in a town within a mile thereof, except on the occasion of a religious festival? (Kagan 128). The women judged that this law limited their rights unfairly. The law was repealed twenty years after it was passed.

Roman citizens and the way that they treated their women is similar in many ways to other cultures of its time and even cultures in years to follow. Still today, different cultures have different expectations and laws for the woman living in their region. Although the average women in the Roman Empire did not have a lot of power and authority, they still impacted the Roman culture in many ways and played an important part in its progress over time