THE POSITION OF WOMEN
PROFESSOR MAHAFFY, in his book on Social Life in Greece, calls the social position of women his "great test point," by which the civilization of a country may be judged. This opinion and the information he gives us about the progress of women in Greece are both very suggestive. A comparison of the status of women in different countries and at different times might not only furnish us with some of the causes of their advance or retrogression, but also throw light upon the institutions and national characteristics of the countries in question. Our inquiry into the position of women in the later Middle Ages, brief as it is, may perhaps supply a few data for such a purpose; it will also enable us to see if they were better or worse off than women are at the present day.
In reading the Early Chancery Proceedings we are struck by the large number of cases which arose concerning the property of women--their goods, their lands, their manors, their tenements, their rents. It is obvious that many women must have possessed property of some kind. This state of affairs was partly due to the necessity laid upon parents of providing their daughters with dowries if they wished them to marry. A woman could