Female medieval English skeletons study

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00766097.2015.1119392

“However, the period of ‘youth’ in medieval England, before the achievement of full social adulthood, may have extended well past physical adolescence, and the age of 25 years is often used as the cut-off point.14″

Louder for the pedos at the back.

“but for most medieval young women physical adulthood did not equate to social adulthood.16″

Obviously.

“Instead, puberty may have marked the beginning of the phase of ‘maidenhood’ rather than adulthood.17”

We now call it teenagehood but I prefer that name for women.

“Lifestyle changes for the teenager, in particular the onset of formal work, may have marked a further step away from childhood, particularly if this involved a move away from the parental home. That the 14th-century poll tax was levied on all those aged 14 years and above suggests that young women were expected to be earning their own money by this age.18

HA. Yeah, the guys who say women should sit at home all day twiddling their thumbs waiting to marry are 1. wrong and 2. have put too much stock in middle-class novelist Austen.

Like today;
“Although exact numbers are impossible to calculate, it is clear from the documentary evidence that a significant proportion of young women migrated to urban centres such as London and York to obtain employment, most commonly a service position.19″

Exactly like today:
“This move would have been a dramatic, and potentially a traumatic, change in lifestyle for young women. Although it may have brought greater freedom and responsibility, it does not seem to have conferred full adult status; there is evidence that young women in service were always viewed as ‘girls’ regardless of their age, just as young men were not viewed as full adults before the completion of an apprenticeship contract.20″

So they didn’t marry for money, they were already economically independent.

If you actually read history and here, forensics.

“in reality, marriage at such a young age was largely restricted to the nobility, with the average age at marriage in the general population estimated at 20–25 years,22
and perhaps even later following the Black Death.23
This would provide a very late age of achievement of ‘adulthood’ by modern standards. However, although marriage was very much the expected path a significant minority of women — perhaps around 15% — never married.24″

Who is dumb enough to have never looked this up?

I keep seeing Americans who make sweeping fictional statements about what ‘we’ Europeans did and it’s like… no. That’s never happened. Citation? Statistics? They are liars. Even in their revenge fantasies of ‘oppressing’ women from work (oh joy, welfare on the backs of random men? can’t win, can we?) then they assume all women would marry off (literally never happened in human history), all women are fertile and their children all magically survive (LOL) and that all men want to marry and got to choose who (LOL no). The economy also needs young workers, part of the immigrant problem is caused by not allowing teens to work.

They’re in bloody La La Land.

Extended maturation is K-selected, the men and women were tougher as a result.

Just realised my grandmothers might be in here.

Almost certainly. Yeah, don’t lie about my nana/s.

“Alongside these dramatic but infrequent events, most young medieval females would have experienced everyday hardships and hazards.”

” The average femoral diaphysis length recorded for the medieval 14-year-old females (354 mm) is closest to that recorded by Maresh for 20th-century 10-year-olds (348 mm). The average figures for medieval 15- and 16-year-old females (365 mm and 366 mm respectively) are still lower than for 20th-century 11-year-olds (367 mm). These data suggest that growth in medieval England fell well below modern standards, perhaps reflecting the lower standard of living medieval children would have experienced.”

If it was that hard on the girls, you don’t wanna go back to that, guys.

“It does not necessarily follow that medieval women were considerably shorter than their modern counterparts. When compared to dental formation, epiphyseal fusion in the female adolescent skeletons from our sample was delayed by two to three years in comparison to modern standards, allowing them to ‘catch-up’ their growth during the pubertal growth spurt.27 This pattern of extended growth appears to have been common in the medieval period;”

The English are tough.

” Only very slight differences in stature were noted between the women of Lincolnshire, London and Gloucester, although the London females had greater diversity in adult height.”

“This may suggest that girls who experienced poorer conditions for childhood and adolescent growth were more likely to die around or before the age of 25 years.”

K-selection. Stunted or shorter women likelier to die. Same with men.

“It has been suggested that female height may have suffered in comparison to male height in medieval Europe due to preferential feeding and care of male children,33causing greater sexual dimorphism in growth and final stature between the sexes. By comparison, the average stature of young men at our sites (156 individuals) was 169.5 cm (5 ft 7 in). This may simply be the result of sexual dimorphism as such comparisons are similar for modern western populations, and therefore does not support the hypothesis that girls experienced poorer nutrition and living standards than boys.”

K-types invest well in all offspring.

“According to these indicators, it appears that all of the individuals studied had entered the pubertal growth spurt by the age of 14 years. In the modern western world girls tend to begin puberty around the age of 10 years,37 and so this result would fit with modern expectations. “

Puberty begins then takes a few years, 14-18/19 matches what I read elsewhere about menarche (posted here).

The ‘modern’ data is skewed by non-whites, especially Asians and Africans, with much lower menarches.

The African is nine, measured in America, as I recall.

“More information can be gained from examining the epiphyseal fusion of the hand phalanges, a process known to occur during the deceleration phase of the pubertal growth spurt, and correlated with first menstruation in modern females. Although the age at which this event occurred varied in our sample just as among modern girls, fusion appears to have occurred most frequently between 15 and 17 years (Fig 2). At 14 years, only 36% of girls display fusing or fused hand phalangeal epiphyses, but by 17 years this figure has risen to 84%.”

Still not 100%, K-types have a later range of menarche.

“A second skeletal event known to be associated with first menstruation, the ossification of the iliac crest of the ilium, was also only found in girls aged at 15 years or over. Interestingly, this is roughly in line with the average age at menarche suggested by the few available documentary sources.38 An average age at menarche of between 15 and 16 years would be much later than the modern British average of just under 13 years.39In addition to their shorter stature, this finding adds weight to the argument that environmental factors such a deficient diet and disease were having a negative impact on medieval female growth and development. Interestingly, however, this average age at menarche is below the age of 17 years recorded for mid-19th century females,40indicating that urban conditions were not as detrimental as those experienced during rapid industrialisation.”

The female body takes YEARS to develop, periods often occur too early to carry a child to term. Hollywood lies, because it’s full of creeps.

Men shouldn’t be discussing a reproductive system they cannot understand.

“The evidence for medieval England, however, shows a delay in the achievement of this milestone, which appears to have fallen between 17 and 18 years for most girls, based on 247 individuals with this bone surviving (Fig 3). Complete fusion of the iliac crest of the ilium, which signals the end of pelvic growth, was only seen in a minority of women aged below 20 years, based on the 277 individuals “

They’re K-types, it isn’t a delay, it’s NORMAL. Modern people are aberrant.

17-18 periods stabilize (this takes years, I have spoken to doctors about it).

The pelvis keeps growing to carry and support a child though, only when this is done (about 21, spinal plate fusion) is the woman actually sexually mature with a low risk of still birth, miscarriage or death.

Modern medicine is allowing a lot of non-white thots to survive a process Nature is telling them is fatal. Do not confuse that with Nature’s approval.

These data suggest that puberty was extended into the very late teens for young medieval women, pushing back the timing of achievement of full physical adulthood. This extended period of physical adolescence indicates that living standards for young medieval women, at least in the urban and small town environments, were considerably poorer than those of modern British adolescents. Some variation between the sites was noted, with pubertal development most advanced in the small town of Barton-upon-Humber, and most delayed in the urban hospital cemetery of St Mary Spital, London. This presumably reflects the harsher living conditions experienced by the girls living and working in London.”

Nah, hard work and low fat diet. Treating the women like men will delay them more.

“It is believed that the demographic changes caused by the Black Death may have led to increased opportunities for many women to migrate and work.43

Although less documentary evidence is available for women than for men, there is evidence for female servants much younger than 12 years in urban households,44and some migration may have occurred at a very young age. Although legislation was passed to regulate the minimum age for apprentices — 13 years in the early 14th century, rising to 16 years by the 15th century — apprenticeships were rarely available for girls, and no such legal minimum age existed for servants or casual workers. The available evidence suggests that girls started formal work away from home at a younger age than boys.45

This concept of female laziness is really American.

” a degree of personal freedom; the latter is perhaps most clearly indicated by the large number of migrant women recorded as making ‘merchet’ payments for the right to choose their own marriage partner.46 On the other hand, moving away from home, particularly to a town or city, could bring with it new challenges and hazards, such as sexual predation, mistreatment, injury and disease.”

Americans are so wrong it hurts.

” this result indicates that much greater numbers of women living and dying in London were actually suffering from tuberculosis.”

“Again, the numbers are too small for statistical analysis, but this may provide further evidence for girls having a more indoor lifestyle than boys in the medieval period.”

Forcing women to sit at home is literally bad for their health.

We aren’t mole people.

On the whole, the women actually had it harder than men.

“There can be little doubt that this extensive workload was exhausting for many women, but osteological study can provide further direct evidence for the impact that this had on young women’s bodies.

A wide range of trauma has been recorded on the skeletons of young medieval women, including fractures of the upper limb and finger bones, cranium and ribs, lower limbs and feet.57 However, the prevalence of fractures of each type is lower than among males, suggesting that girls were exposed to (or exposed themselves to) fewer risks of injury than boys.”

We hadn’t evolved for that labour, men did.

“It is notable that, of the 48 cases of trauma reported in the grey and published literature, cranial, rib and jaw injuries, suggestive of interpersonal violence, only started to appear in women aged 17–25 years, comprising 18.6% of the 43 fractures for this age group. This suggests that the risk of violence rose as girls turned into young women, perhaps reflecting domestic violence after marriage.58″

That would explain the death rate. Stress and fractures – no healthy baby.

There is one area of the skeleton where young women seem to have suffered virtually the same frequency of fractures as young men, the vertebral column. By far the highest prevalence rate for vertebral fractures (4.7%, n = 9) was found at St Mary Spital suggesting that female workers in the capital, or at least the poor workers buried in this hospital cemetery, were undertaking the activities most likely to cause spinal injury. The majority of these fractures were compression fractures, often caused by falls from a height, although avulsion and hyperflexion injuries were also present.59

The men sitting at a desk in an apprenticeship had it easy.

“Schmorl’s nodes are common, often asymptomatic, depressions caused by herniation of the nucleus pulposus on the superior and inferior surfaces of the vertebral bodies. Their aetiology is complex, although spinal trauma caused by vigorous activity and flexion and extension of the spine is most commonly associated with their formation.60 The age of their occurrence is not clear, but they generally appear before the age of 18 years.61Plomp et al argued that males are more susceptible to these lesions due to the size and shape of their vertebrae.62 In our study, medieval women had a higher prevalence of the lesions). Analysis of the location of Schmorl’s nodes on the vertebrae revealed that the lumbar vertebrae were affected far more often among women, and the central thoracic vertebrae among men. This mirrors vertebral fractures where in the women all of the fractures occurred in the lower thoracic and lumbar vertebrae, while in young men the central thoracic vertebrae were affected. This may suggest different activities; strain on the lumbar vertebrae, in particular, may be caused by bending and lifting.63″

aka back breaking labour, which could cause…

“Further evidence for stress being placed on the spines of young medieval women is provided by cases of spondylolysis. This describes the partial separation of the inferior facets on the neural arch from the vertebral body, usually between the ages of 10–12 years. The condition results from microtrauma in low grade stress on the lower back due to bending and lifting strains, or a fall from a height,64 but may have an underlying congenital cause. This injury was present in 4.4% of the female skeletons examined. This is higher than the prevalence of this condition found by the authors among young medieval males (2.9%), although the numbers involved were too small for statistical analysis. Again, the area involved is the lumbar region of the vertebral column. In addition, three young women, two aged at around 21 years and one at 22–25 years, display early degenerative joint disease of the vertebral column.”

Forcing women into labour like that kills them, reminder.

What emerges from the osteological evidence is that the workload of many young medieval women appears to have been literally backbreaking, and these early injuries may be expected to have led to significant back problems and pain in later life. It seems likely that these early spinal problems were caused primarily by carrying heavy loads at a time when the spine was still forming and vulnerable. Research from the grey and published literature reveals that rates of spinal injury were higher in urban than rural women65 and suggests that the workload of the young migrant women in service was harder than that of the young women who remained in the country or in small towns with their families. For example, the prevalence of vertebral fractures, spondylolysis and Schmorl’s nodes was lowest at Barton-upon-Humber, a wealthy small town.66″

Marriage, Sexual Activity and Childbirth

There is considerable evidence to suggest that marriage was a defining moment in the medieval female life course, marking the transition into true social adulthood.67 It is notable, however, that there was a significant gap between the legal age at marriage (12 years) and the average age at marriage (20–25 years even before the Black Death) in medieval England.68 The new analysis of pubertal development in medieval England discussed above suggests that the average age at menarche was 15–16 years. Full fertility, in terms of the likelihood of conception, carrying a healthy pregnancy to term and surviving childbirth, would only have followed several years after menarche with the completion of pelvic growth,69 which in our medieval sample appears to have been rare before the age of 19 years.

aka what I already typed, dammit

The fact that many young medieval women would not have been fertile before their 20s may be one reason for the relatively late average age of marriage during this period.70 It also suggests that marriage at the legal minimum age of 12 years would rarely have been fruitful, and any pregnancy that did ensue would have carried significant risks for the mother. We know of several medieval legal cases of the marriage of young girls where the ‘physical readiness for marriage’ of the girl in question was debated.71

This don’t go to college because you get periods thing from America is pig ignorant on female anatomy.

There is evidence to suggest, however, that the majority of cases of marriage before 15 years were confined to the nobility.72Today, girls of higher socio-economic status, with a considerably better standard of life, mature earlier than average. For example, high caste girls in 20th-century India have an average age at menarche over a year younger than low caste girls.73 The average age at menarche for noble girls in medieval England may therefore have been younger than the average age of 15–16 years described above.

more r-selected by men, explains eventual decadence and homosexuality rates, especially in the French

Even so, a pregnancy before the completion of pelvic development would have been dangerous; a famous example of this is provided by Margaret Beaufort, who appears to have been rendered sterile by a difficult first birth (of the future king Henry VII) at the age of just 13 years.74 An understanding of these risks is demonstrated by several contemporary authors,75 and was reflected in the Jewish rule that contraception (banned by Christian teaching) could be used to prevent pregnancy if the bride were too young to safely bear a child.767

The guys trying to force women to reproduce young would ironically render their own wife sterile via their stupidity. Good riddance. The Lord works in mysterious ways.

In theory, marriage coincided with sexual initiation for young women, and if the Church’s remonstrations to remain celibate until marriage were universally followed, it would indicate a relatively late age of sexual initiation. In reality, premarital sex among betrothed couples seems to have been common,77

that links to this study, no, they weren’t slutty

seems*

no

and sex with other partners, in not all cases consensual, was far from rare.

Are you really counting rape?

Evidence for this is provided by the erratic enforcement of ‘legerwite’ or ‘leyrwite’ fines on serf women who engaged in premarital sex.78

What about the men.

Premarital sex is thought to have been particularly common among young girls and women living away from home, for example in service roles, due to the greater freedom and availability of partners as well as the risk of sexual predation or pimping from employers.79 The sexual exploitation of girls in service appears to have been a frequent problem based on the legal record,80 and many young women must have lost their virginity in these circumstances. The extensive focus of many writers on admonishing young women to stay celibate until marriage may be taken as further evidence that premarital sex was seen (at least for women) as a significant societal problem.

Rape isn’t sleeping around, WTF.

Pedophiles raping virgins don’t really count as premarital sex, a choice, does it?

Two aspects of osteological analysis may shed light on sexual activity among young medieval women. The first is a sexually transmitted disease. Venereal syphilis, a treponemal disease, affects the skeleton in its tertiary stage, causing distinctive skeletal lesions.81 From the end of the 15th century, syphilis is believed to have been endemic in urban areas of England, although recent work has suggested that it may have been present at a much earlier date.82

Men spread that, sailors caught that. Your point?

If a virgin woman married a man with it, she’d get it. That can happen after marriage.

These female authors really want to present all women throughout history as sluts. Cui bono?

Among the 14–25 year old female individuals examined, four probable cases of treponemal disease were recorded, based on the presence of characteristic gummatous lesions in the cranium or long bones.83 Three of these were found in the young women from London (Fig 5), and one was found in York, at St Helen-on-the-Walls. One further case is known from Blackfriars, Gloucester;84 no cases were identified in the rural or small town sites consulted in the wider survey. The two youngest women to show signs of treponemal disease were aged at just 16 years. It is difficult to rule out congenital syphilis in these cases, as the presentation of the two conditions can be very similar, although none of these skeletons display the typical dental deformations of congenital syphilis.

So their fathers were sluts, so?

If the disease is the venereal form of treponemal disease, or syphilis, this would suggest the girls were very young when first infected. Syphilis generally takes several years to cause such destruction in the skeleton.85 Although the number of cases recorded is small, given that only 10–20% of individuals with tertiary syphilis experience skeletal involvement, and that skeletal lesions take several years to develop,86 it seems likely that much greater numbers of young women were affected by this disease.

To imply they wanted to be raped by syphilitic men is a bridge too far though.

The spread of sexually transmitted diseases such as syphilis was exacerbated by the problem of prostitution in medieval towns and cities. Karras argues that regulations of the Guilds limited women’s access to the normal labour market, forcing them to turn to prostitution out of necessity.87

Assuming that was a mistake.

There is little direct evidence that apprentices were procured as prostitutes, but one extant record from London City and Ecclesiastical Court (ad 1423) attests that one Alison Boston took apprentices who she hired out for the ‘horrible vice of lechery’.88 There are also accounts of men taking young girls (invenculae) to the London stews and selling them as prostitutes, suggesting the types of danger faced by young unskilled immigrant women. Goldberg89 cites the famous references from medieval York in ad 1482 that place prostitutes within the legal realm of ‘lepers’ and pigs in the hazards they caused for the local population.

Enslaved children.

She does not discuss the age at which women may have turned to prostitution, but suggests widows and daughters of labourers, known as ‘spinsters’ and ‘seamstresses’ (sempsters), needed to work several jobs to make ends meet, including petty theft, illegal ale retailing and prostitution. Goldberg argues that although full-time, ‘professional’ prostitutes were rare, many women were forced into occasional prostitution in hard times.90

Contradiction, Goldberg.

also why we have the welfare state

This would have been a particular risk for a migrant girl away from the safety of her family.91 Although it is impossible to state that any of the young medieval women examined were forced into this profession, this must be considered in the cases where possible syphilis is recorded.

No shit, nobody would choose that. The excuses these women make for rape are appalling.

A second consequence of sexual activity, pregnancy, may also in exceptional circumstances be visible in the archaeological record. In total, eight cases of young women buried with fetuses in utero have been recorded from medieval cemetery contexts. These burials represent ‘obstetric catastrophes’ with the death of both mother and child in late pregnancy or childbirth. Although there was a Christian injunction in place in medieval England for infants to be removed from their mother’s womb before burial,92 this does not appear to have been rigorously obeyed.

Yeah, who wouldn’t choose to die like that? I guess they were all just happy sluts, huh Mizz Feminist?

All of the individuals buried with a fetus in utero in medieval cemeteries have an estimated age at death of around 20 years or over, and thus none represent particularly young ‘teenage’ pregnancies.

Because they rarely got pregnant. Look at the evidence.

This may support the idea that in the medieval period teenage girls were not falling pregnant, as first pregnancies are often seen as the most hazardous.93

May? It’s anatomical.

It also fits with the known late pattern of marriage in this society. However, it is by no means certain that all of these women were married. The two examples from St Mary Spital may have represented extramarital pregnancies as the hospital was known to accept unmarried women in pregnancy or childbirth.94 It may be significant that neither of these women received an individual grave or any grave ornamentation. In contrast, the elaborate nature of one young mother’s burial at Barton-upon-Humber, in a coffin within the church and with a cloth of gold artefact,95 surely indicates that this woman was married and held a position of substantial social standing.

Clearly, their situation was a choice.

Given the high mortality rate of women in childbirth in the medieval period revealed by documentary sources,96s it is clear that these rare burials represent a dramatic under-estimation of the real levels of maternal mortality. In many cases, the churches prohibition on burying fetuses in utero may have been observed. In a large proportion of births, too, the child may have been saved, leaving little clue as to the cause of death of the mother.

But doctors (when sane) will elect to save the mother because she can have countless children later but an orphan baby is already financially a goner. Remember this, America.

Conclusion

The period of social adolescence for young medieval women seems to have been an important life stage, encompassing the growth to full physical adulthood and fertility, the adoption of adult working roles and, for most young women, the move from legal dependence on a father to legal dependence on a husband, with perhaps a few brief years of relative independence in between. The comparative absence of young women from documentary sources means that osteological information plays a vital role in our understanding of this group, and it can reveal a great deal about the way in which medieval girls grew into women, the living conditions they enjoyed or endured, the work they did and the health problems they faced.

Many of the conclusions drawn from osteological analysis of this group articulate with and illuminate the documentary evidence. The average age at which full fertility appears to have been achieved, around 20 years, is substantially later than in modern England, but ties in well with the known average age at marriage in this society. The greater susceptibility of young women to respiratory infections, from the relatively benign maxillary sinusitis to the deadly serious tuberculosis, chimes with the picture drawn from documentary sources of an indoor lifestyle for women, close to the smoky fire, and of the cramped living conditions that helped to spread disease. The backbreaking work clearly undertaken by many young women paints a clearer physical picture of their daily lives than that provided by documentary sources alone, and the development of signs of venereal disease in very young women hints at the problem of girls being driven to prostitution in England’s medieval cities.

Gang rape, we still have it. They are driven to it, slave-driven.

1. Be civil. 2. Be logical or fair. 3. Do not bore me.

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