Women in the Elizabethan Era (1500-1600) were referred to as "the weaker sex." Even though a Woman sat on the throne of England as queen, women were very limited in society.
Classic Elizabethan gender roles dictate that the man would be the breadwinner and the women would serve as a housewife and mother.
There are still reported instances of abuse in modern marriages, but now it is illegal.
Not all that long ago, in the 1950s, high school females taking home economics were being taught to wait on their husband as a servant does when he got home.
Society was very patriarchal, meaning that the men were considered to be the leaders and women their inferiors both physically and emotionally.