The debate on the origins of modern gender norms continues unabated across the academic disciplines. This book adds an important and hitherto neglected dimension. Focusing on rural life and its values, the author argues that the modern ideal of separate spheres originated in the era of the Enlightenment. Prior to the eighteenth century, cultural norms prescribed active, interdependent economic roles for both women and men. Enlightenment economists transformed these gender paradigms as they postulated a market exchange system directed exclusively by men. By the early nineteenth century, the emerging bourgeois value system affirmed the new civil society and the market place as exclusively male realms. These standards defined women’s options largely as marriage and motherhood.