Western Europeans worked as family units and these families rarely exceeded six to ten members. Young children stayed at home and helped around the house. Usually teens leave their home to become servants for other families. Men and women married in their mid-twenties and they made sure they had a household of their own and started a family right away. In some cases the landlord made the serfs remarry after the death of their spouse because this was to enhance the position of the lord of the manor. Women were known as to how well they can bear children and their economic acumen. Young girls left the home to become paid servants in other households. Once these girls have made enough money they were arranged a marriage in which they were to bear children which were expected to become assets to the rural economy. Women and men both worked in the fields plowing, planting, and producing sufficient crops to pay taxes and rent. This usually only helped until the next growing season. For the minority of women who married to traders or artisans and who lived in towns or cities, the death of a husband meant that the widow would assume control of the business and even employ male apprentices. These women could acquire economic independence after the death of a spouse.
Chapter 14: The Early Modern State.