What were most women during this time like in comparison to Anne Bradstreet?

Anne Bradstreet was an upper class woman. This meant she had many privileges and abilities that most female individuals of her time did not have. I picked this question because I was curious to know the lifestyle and education of the average women of this time in Europe. I wanted to know what background set her up for her success.

Anne Bradstreet was born in 1612, in Northhampton, England. She was born Anne Dudley. She was the daughter of Thomas Dudley and Dorothy Yorke. During this time most women were educated very little if at all. Anne did not attend an actual school, however she was privileged enough to receive her education from eight different tutors. Her father, Thomas Dudley, was always more than willing to teach her something new; ergo he also heavily contributed to her excellent education. She was an extremely curious pupil whom liked to feed her hunger for knowledge through her continuous reading of the greatest authors ever known up to then. Luckily her father’s occupation was the steward of the Earl of Lincoln estate, which gave Anne unlimited access to the immense library of the manor.

Bradstreet’s childhood was very luxurious compared to most. Her father was the chief steward for Theophilus Clinton, the Puritan Earl of Lincoln. Her father (who loved history) encouraged her in her studies. She probably read the works of William Shakespeare, Sir Philip Sidney, Sir Walter Raleigh, Du Bartas, Cervantes, and many others. http://classiclit.about.com/cs/profileswriters/p/aa_abradstreet.htm


Attributes of women during the early 17th century:
-Women wore simple basic clothing similar to tunics, they were considered housewives and they spent their days doing house work and farming.
– Caucasian women during the early 1600s did have the privilege of learning basic reading and writing skills. Sadly though, few women continued past this basic learning and most were actually discouraged to achieve education.
-After achieving a basic education, women learned and practiced to become mothers and house wives.
-Women did not have an influence in politics or legal issues of the day. They did not have a say in government policies either.
-In essence, women did not have a say in anything men felt women should not be involved in.
-Women had no right to own a business and could not hold any of the property once married
-Women could not get a divorce.
-If a woman was divorced, she would be stripped of all real-estate property and would be looked down upon by society.

There was a good deal of uncertainty about women’s education in the early seventeenth century. Protestant leaders believed that women as well as men of all classes should at least be able to read the Bible, and some religious literature. Women in the upper class were taught to read and often to write in English, and also they often studied French, needlework, a small amount of geography, music, and dancing, but the classical languages or other serious studies were commonly thought to be not only unnecessary but very likely harmful to a woman’s weaker mind and to her marriage prospects.



A prime example of what happens to a woman who steps outside of her gender’s boundaries in the 1600s can be found in the case of Anne Hutchinson. The following is a brief biography of her from http://m.search.eb.com/topic/277653
“Anne Marbury was the daughter of a silenced clergyman and grew up in an atmosphere of learning. She married William Hutchinson, a merchant, in 1612, and in 1634 they migrated to Massachusetts Bay Colony. Anne Hutchinson soon organized weekly meetings of Boston women to discuss recent sermons and to give expression to her own theological views. Before long her sessions attracted ministers and magistrates as well. She stressed the individual’s intuition as a means of reaching God and salvation, rather than the observance of institutionalized beliefs and the precepts of ministers. Her opponents accused her of antinomianism—the view that God’s grace has freed the Christian from the need to observe established moral precepts.
Hutchinson’s criticism of the Massachusetts Puritans for what she considered to be their narrowly legalistic concept of morality and her protests against the authority of the clergy were at first widely supported by Bostonians. John Winthrop, however, opposed her, and she lost much of her support after he won election as governor. She was tried by the General Court chiefly for “traducing the ministers,” was convicted in 1637, and was sentenced to banishment. For a time in 1637–38 she was held in custody at the house of Joseph Weld, marshal of Roxbury, Massachusetts. Refusing to recant, she was then tried before the Boston Church and formally excommunicated.
With some of her followers Hutchinson established a settlement (now Portsmouth) on the island of Aquidneck (now part of Rhode Island) in 1638. After the death of her husband in 1642, she settled on Long Island Sound, near present Pelham Bay, New York. In 1643 she and all her servants and children save one were killed by Indians, an event regarded by some in Massachusetts as a manifestation of divine judgment.”
This woman was persecuted and banished for speaking out about her religious views and opinions. Women of the 17th century were supposed to know their place.They were supposed to cook, clean, and raise children, not too speak out against male authority. This was an interesting story I felt necessary to share to understand how women of the time were viewed as lesser beings in society.

After researching this subject I learned that Anne Bradstreet was a very exceptional women, but only managed to accomplish what she did by the good fortunes of having a wealthy upper class background and tutors and a father who cared for and contributed to her education greatly. Most women of this time were lucky to be very literate much less be well educated like Anne. I am proud to live in a time and country where the education of all people is available and encouraged.


What was John Smith’s life like prior to his adventures in the new world?

After reading the two excerpts assigned from Ethology, “From New England’s Trials” and the “Biography of Captain John Smith, “one question enthralled me most. What were Captain John Smith’s prior experiences to coming to the new world which led him to be such a heroic Icon? In the excerpts Captain Smith always seems to get out of trouble, fight through adversity, and ultimately succeed. This leads me to believe that he must have had some very interesting prior influences and experiences before he came to Virginia. I’ve decided to research the earlier life of Captain John Smith before the settlement of Jamestown.

“Tough, romantic and arrogant, Smith was the original American rebel, which is much of the reason he looms so large in both the making of American mythology and the making of American history.” http://web.ebscohost.com/ehost/detail?vid=2&sid=c4b96080-13c4-439d-a1c3-d01758f4d3c5%40sessionmgr114&hid=112&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=mih&AN=24882922

A short summary of Captain John Smith’s early life can be found at http://apva.org/rediscovery/page.php?page_id=25 . From this I discovered that John Smith was born in Willoughby, England in 1580. He left home at a mere 16 after his father’s passing and started his adventures by joining volunteers in France to fight for Dutch independence from Spain. Two years after this he worked on a merchant ship in the Mediterranean Sea. Smith joined Austrian forces to fight against the Turks in the “Long War” in 1600. He was a very honorable and courageous soldier made evident in that he was promoted to the rank of Captain while fighting in Hungary. In 1602 he was again fighting, this time in Transylvania. While there Smith was wounded in battle, and taken and sold into slavery to a Turk. The Turk sent Smith as a gift to his lover in Istanbul. From the view of Smith, this lady fell in love with him and sent him to her brother to be trained for Turkish imperial service. Smith supposedly escaped from the girl’s brother by murdering him and returning to Transylvania after fleeing through Russia and Poland. Here he was released from service and received a large reward. Captain Smith traveled throughout Europe and Northern Africa. He returned to England the winter of 1604-05.

Map of Europe and North Africa


The following source,in grim and greater detail, elicits the story of John Smith while he was enslaved. http://web.ebscohost.com/ehost/detail?vid=2&sid=c4b96080-13c4-439d-a1c3-d01758f4d3c5%40sessionmgr114&hid=112&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=mih&AN=24882922
He was an expert swordsman whom excelled in hand-to-hand combat and was also familiar with the making of bombs out of clay pots, gunpowder and tar, Smith served as a volunteer in wars abroad France, the Netherlands and southeast Europe to the edge of the Ottoman Empire. Smith was Captured then sold into slavery and eventually ended up at a desolate Black Sea military outpost. Here a Turkish officer shaved John Smith’s head and placed an iron ring about his neck. “A dog could hardly have lived to endure” the constant beatings and pitiful rations that were administered, Smith wrote in his amusing autobiography. According to Smith, he was working at a grain field one day by himself when his Turkish master came by alone, ready to carry out his routine beatings. Smith bashed in his skull with a bat, took his clothes, hid the dead body in a haystack and fled on top of the dead former master’s horse. He traveled back to Europe by following the ancient Silk Road.

Knowing a little bit about Captain John Smith’s experiences before he came to America was one of my primary interests. Although this information was not easily found, I feel like I did find some interesting information. There are endless amounts of information during his time in the new world, but very little of the time before, and most information on this is very vague and summarized. I now better understand his character and why he was such an admirable yet tough leader whom was capable of overcoming almost anything. I hope my findings interest others also and help rear a better understanding of the background of Captain John Smith.

Picture of Captain John Smith