One of most common statement about women in the Middle Ages is that they were “just property” and “lowly servants.” This statement ignores the accomplishments, achievements, and duties of the medieval woman. It encourages the idea that before the 1960s, women had unfulfilling, meaningless lives. This is problematic.
Short version: Many records exist of women who owned property, inherited property, administered their property with the same authority that a man would have, owned businesses, offered economic advice, took control in legal disputes, held secular and religious authority over men, and gave advice in military affairs.
Long version: Régine Pernoud stresses that in the 13th C, a woman’s reign was a natural occurrence: “It would not be possible to list the total number of women who, in feudal and medieval times, administered what were sometimes very large domains.”  Concerning royal authority, Pernoud mentions that in the Middle Ages, both queens and kings were crowned individually by an archbishop, which placed equal emphasis on both of their roles.  Not until after the Middle Ages did this change. Dhuoda, a French queen who lived in the mid-800s, shows in her writings that she is familiar with the political circumstances of her realm and with craftsmen’s work. 
In the middle of the 6th century, laws of inheritance said that only men could inherit, but this law was limited to hereditary family property—the main landholding, the family manor. Daughters could inherit this piece of property only if the family had no sons. Apart from the main landholding, all other property could be distributed equally between sons and daughters.  Likewise, a woman’s dowry was her own property which her husband could use, but could not dispose of. Women could use their husbands’ property, replace them in judicial matters if they were absent (permission wasn’t needed), and retain parts of their property upon their deaths (rules varied by circumstances). Women administered their own lands during their lives and after their husbands’ deaths. 
Authority does not apply only to royal women. Notary records show that women of lower classes owned shops or engaged in trade without requiring any influence or permission from their husbands.  Even female serfs, women of the lowest class, owned property in their own right.  In the religious realm, in the monastery at Fontrevrault, the founder Robert d’Arbrissel ordered that nuns and monks in the order should be separated at all times, save when they met in the church that joined their cloisters for Mass. He also ordered that the whole abbey, men and women alike, should be run by an abbess. He declared that the monks should serve their abbess in the spirit of St. John, who cared for the Virgin Mary after Jesus’s death. 
Women had a huge amount of influence on the social aspect of medieval life. Manners and refinement were primarily learned from women, but were also necessary if a man was to please a woman. In Traité d’Amour, by André le Chapelain says that “women being the origin and the cause of every good, and God having given them such a great prerogative, they must show themselves to be such that the virtue of those who do what is good incites others to do the same.”  This is exemplified in Arthurian literature where a knight must show not only military skill, but also refinement to win the woman he loves. If it were true that women’s desires and opinions did not matter, then why would medieval men have written so many poems and books about men striving to please the women they love?