Kobiety z rodzin szlacheckich w życiu i działaniach politycznych mężczyzn w świetle pamiętników i literatury okresu staropolsk iego
Women from Aristocratic Families in Political Activities of Men in the Old Polish Period in the Light of Memoirs and Literature
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In Poland of the Old Polish Period women were not allowed to hold any public functions. One of the few exceptions was the function of the queen, however, even the queen could only engage in charity work. Therefore, in the light of memoirs and literature dating back to the 16th–18th century period women descending from aristocratic families fulfilled a role of, among others, intermediaries in men’s actions – both as mothers and wives were engaged in family affairs that required seeking a proper protection from someone holding an appropriate function. This role was also fulfilled by widows, especially wealthy and influential ones, who enabled personal contacts with holders of public functions. Among such intermediaries were also mistresses and women who in exchange for financial gains offered their aid in establishing such connections. Intellectual mediation was used, which was a means of communication of messages and views, the best example of which was a poet Elżbieta Drużbacka. Property owned by eligible spinsters (dowry, real property and at times also valuables and assets bequeathed for life) – constituted a chance of coming to wealth or social promotion. A wife’s family, in the event of kinship and affinity with renowned lineages offered also an opportunity to be promoted to better and higher functions in the contemporary Poland, therefore marrying into such a family was very much desired by men and their families and next of kin. A widow was for young men also a pass to a better and wealthier lifestyle. In such an event age or beauty was often of no significance whatsoever. On the other hand, in an event of selection of a wife in order to generate a heir a woman’s age was highly important, as well as her health, which was verified by a physician. In spite of the official attitudes towards women during the Old Polish Period and attempts to isolate them in both political and socio-cultural life, women would be utilized by men in many areas. Men would use women’s position, connections and financial resources, which both directly and indirectly had an influence on implementation of political objectives and family policy.
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