AP World History : Gender 1450 to 1750

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP World History

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Gender 1450 To 1750

Which of the following is not one of the ways in which the Protestant Reformation altered the lives and roles of women?

Possible Answers:

Protestants greatly valued marriage and family life as sacred institutions

Protestants criticized the Catholic Church’s traditional depiction of women as inherently weak and easily corrupted

Protestantism preached that women should assume a more active role in society in occupying positions of religious value

Protestantism made divorce religiously permissible

Protestant leaders believed that women should be equally and thoroughly educated

Correct answer:

Protestantism preached that women should assume a more active role in society in occupying positions of religious value


The Protestant Reformation brought about an expansion of viewpoints, roles, and possibilities for many Western European women. On the whole, Protestantism was a relatively female-positive religion when compared to Catholicism, which at the time had been teaching its followers for centuries that women, as a whole, were morally susceptible and best kept submissive. Not only did Protestantism criticize this stance but it took things several steps further by actually supporting its words through a range of actions. Many Protestant leaders, from John Calvin to Martin Luther, publically praised women, declaring them essential to the health of every family unit and every religious community. Because Protestant teachings exalted marriage and family life as sacred, women were therefore seen as the indispensable, morally-strong force who held the family together. In order to make sure that women were able to carry out this role, Protestants advocated for women to be educated, especially in theology. They also supported divorce, both religiously and legally – a radically unique stance for the era; however, in spite of all these desperately-needed improvements, the Protestant view of women had quite definite limits. From their perspective, a woman’s proper place was in the home and so Protestant leaders actively discouraged women from seeking any sort of leadership position within religious life itself. Women were permitted to assume a less submissive role at home, provided of course that they followed where their husbands, as proper Protestant men, first led them.

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