Cecilia was understood to be a striver and a survivor. She was endowed with virtues that hastened her opulence during the medieval period in the European society. Besides, her hardihood was one of her. Sanctified with excellent health and a grand family, was a definite ingredient to cultivate and contribute to her maturity. This essay explores the European social life which has been presented in the book “A Medieval Life: Cecilia Penifader of Brigstock, c. 1297-1344” by Judith Bennett.
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It describes what Cecilia’s life represents in the society and examines how other individuals’ lives in the book represent in the society. Thus the essay points out tensions in the society as represented in the book. It further explores the social systems and how they have been expressed in the book. Also, it expounds on the roles of men and women and fixes the differences and likenesses.
The paper also examines the life of Cecilia and hardships that she did face, it identify a bigger problem and explains. Moreover, the essay, allows me to identify the most interesting part about Cecilia’s life. And finally the paper concludes.
Cecilia Penifader Life
Cecilia was privileged to be born in a wealthy family during the thirteen century. She was born in central England. When Cecilia was budding up, her early days were in the farmyard around the home (Bennett 24). She was enthusiastic and helpful in the family and she loved, playing, gardening, cooking and taking care of Agnes, her little sister.
Cecilia had to double performing the harder of the work of which men did to keep and manage her extensive parcel of land, despite her worsening age.
Implication of Cecilia’s’ life and other characters represent in the society
Like any other women in the society today, Cecilia Penifader represents the universality of women in the world (Bennett 35). This implies that women can confidently symbolize an ordinary man, but not just any other women in the society. In the medieval times, peasants were used to portray “natural male” and women represented “women” for example Jane and Charlotte, the central characters in the book does, or as children being presented by women for Lewis Alice does.
However women in no way represented civilization. Thus, Cecilia shows that women can typify the collective human circumstances of men. Cecilia was a distinct woman who took part meant for her class as a peasant was noteworthy in issuing the rules of her life rather than her class as a woman (Bennett 46). She was among the 90% of Europe’s populace. Her lifestyle was simple depicting other peasants living in Europe that is mostly peasants working in the meadow and serving the ruling and elite group interests. Thus, her sex didn’t have any on her inclination to represent an ordinary man in the medieval time than the interests of peasants’.
Besides, Cecilia and other characters in the book represent the “number three” in our modern society. The medieval history is characterized by incorporating three parts that is; the social arrangements which consisted of “three parts”. The first part was a major political establishment which was made up of; the village, parish and manor. The second part was the economic market which existed of; the land, labor and trade. All these three were deduced from the bible in which the number three has a special extent (Bennett 78).
The peasants actively practiced the system of crop rotation in their farms thrice a year hence “number three (Bennett 98). The “number three” shows the medieval social was influenced by strict examination and compliance to both custom and spiritual teachings. The number three order still has a role in our society today.
Cecilia and tension experienced in the society
Tensions emerges several times and at different stages in the book. A woman resembling Cecilia in a court creates apprehension and much tension in the society, though Cecilia had already died, but the presence of “this woman” with similar looks like Cecilia gives an impression that maybe Cecilia had resurrected (Bennett 99).
Also, the issue of Cecilia not marrying an unusual life partner in a middle ages created an outcry within the society; this was not something usual to happen in the medieval days. However, it is seen clearly that if Cecilia would have been married, then she would have ceded her wealth and property to “would” be the husband. Cecilia was unwilling to comply with this demand especially being under a patronage of a man.
This made it more challenging to the society. Also, Cecilia witnessed several people dying because of the great famine, especially her friends, because of this massive deaths tension coupled with grief field her and other society members (Bennett 97). Cecilia love for the dead was beyond grasp.
Social System represented
The medieval life represents a social division that is prevalent in European society today. The social nature in the book is highlighted t by the characters and the life of Cecilia in the book. Her birth shows that she was born in preset society that didn’t recognize the importance of social “mobility” (Bennett 104).
This is unlike today where society is liquefied and compels individuals to propel through positions, in the medieval society; the social had a preset nobleness and created peasantry.
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During her childhood, Cecilia knew that her place in life as a peasant female was unassailable and the hard work to budge above her social order would prove pointless and unrecognized by her superiors. In Cecilia’s’ sense, her status right from her birth was considered to be her destiny. In the medieval times, few people could supersede the conditions of their birth (Bennett 110).
For instance, Robert was a 12 century peasant, made it possible by rising through the social strata with his brilliance to teach at Oxford and becoming a bishop. Besides, Robert, medieval period was rigid that Cecilia, despite of never meeting a member of gentry family, didn’t even think of what would look like living like a woman of the gentry (Bennett 114). She had restricted her dream to the peasant category in which she was sure of achieving rather opulence and distinction in the society.
Role-Played by Women and men
There has been great emphasis about the role of the family in the book. Both men and women have played the role in tandem. Family was not only a basic unit of the society but was an important determinant of a person’s conduit European medieval age. The social standing in the society of an individual was also influenced by birth.
Because of the wealth that Cecelia’s’ parents owned, it eased her to succeed by providing her with efficient environment that is capital to promote her find her first parcel of land (Bennett 119). However, Cecilia was privileged to have good nourishment than no any other child could afford and enjoy in the medieval times.
She was fortunate to have parents who aided her in whatever ways to help her grow since; the customs of medieval times didn’t allow peasants to offer anyone else but only their first bone sons. In beam of this, both women and female recognized the importance of the family as an individual compelling force. It was the social and economic fountain by which a person emerge and the fundamental association through which a person knows and form acquaintances with others (Bennett 123).
Thus, there was division of responsibilities in the book. We have peasants who prayed, worked and fought. This is explored in the book in various forms. It was one-way of social life in the medieval times. Cecilia had learned to list individuals’ right from her early age. For instance, peasants; who toiled to profit others, clergy; accountable for spiritual nourishment and salvation of souls, knights; gave fortification.
This stratified organization was a firm act of life. People were obligated to hunt in light with Gods backing. Clergy offered heavenly intervention and preached about social concord regardless of the class in the society.
Though Cecilia balanced her life and exercised efficient management practices on her lands, she did expect hardships in her life. The first hardship was accusations. This was one of the major significant problems that she faced. Cecilia neighbors Cecilia relative wealth. But, Cecilia’s influential land buy mostly occurred during the period of great dearth, this period involved bargaining power for one to get a land.
And, the Black Death and great famine was also a challenge to the peasant in the medieval times. Many peasants willingly had a hard time surviving these two catastrophes (Bennett 127). They found a comfort within their hearts by believing and trusting the catastrophes was because of an expression of Gods anger. However, many peasants devise ways of dealing with the Gods anger; they prayed consistently, trusting that God would concede and infers their suffering.
My Personal opinion
The medial life represents a complex way of social life in Europe. What interests me is the issue of surnames a symbol used in the book. The birth of Cecilia coincided with a new revolution on how surname were given and used. It is that, surnames were used to equip information an individual or the family.
For instance the surname of Cecilia, Penifader comes from penny father and it portrays the characters of her paternal grandfather as greedy or misery. Robert Grosseteste renowned intellectual and a bishop received his name because of his intelligence that is Grosseteste means “large head”. The surnames symbolized the authority the society had over an individual and therefore influencing how the public view an individual.
The life of Cecilia and other notable characters in the book portrays the present-day world. However, the social systems in the society ranging from peasants, clergy and the elites shows how society is composed of different castes and continues to interact with each other.
The role of men and women has been complimented by each other specifically in the family life; this has been an important issue in strengthening sanctity in this basic unit of life.
Bennett, Judith M. A Medieval life: Cecilia Penifader of Brigstock, C. 1295- 1344.New York: McGraw-Hill College, 1999.