Marriage In The 17th Century Essay

1873 words - 7 pages

The seventeenth century was a fascinating time period of English history, and has always got a lot of attention from historians around the world. In this time period men had all the power over their women and had all the laws on their side of a marriage. During the seventeenth century marriages were slowly escaping the time when a lot of marriages were arranged by parents and people where starting to be able to choose their partners for themselves. This paper is going to be providing an outline of the seventeenth-century English marriage. Thing such as basic marriage values, concluding marriages, duties of a married woman and even possibilities of divorce were a lot different back then than they are now.
In seventeenth-century England, being married played a far more important social role than it does nowadays. The position of women in seventeenth-century English marriage was dictated by her family relationships, with an importance on the inferiority of women. The law was strongly in favor of the fathers and husbands of women. It was a fact that married women had no financial rights that would make her independent of her husband and that everything that was hers was his. Men also had a right hit their wife’s in this time period without any consequences and sadly it was a common occurrence in marriage. A husband’s dominance or “rule” over his wife and children was pretty much seen as a king’s reign over the people in his country. A woman was regarded as a creature physically, intellectually, morally and even spiritually inferior to a man which gave man had a right to dominate her.1 So this lead to men being able to control their wife like nothing we have ever seen in modern times. Women were waiting on men hand and foot in a society strongly influenced by Puritan values; sexual integrity and the status of a married person gave a woman respectability and social prestige among society. The fact that it was very difficult for women to find ways of making an independent living meant that securing a husband was a matter of great importance and was something that all women had on their minds.
While nowadays it is wildly spread that someone must be around 18 years of age to get married, in seventeenth century England it was possible for two people to married very young. The minimum legal age to get married was 12 years for women and 14 years for men. In addition, it was possible for the couple to get engaged at the age of 7, with the right to break off the engagement on reaching the minimum age of consent2. However early marriages like that were rather rare and the average age of the newlyweds was between around 20 to 24 years of age. Most of the marriages that were arranged usually a trade in return would receive something of value. Often neighboring farms or businesses would marry their children to each other to expand business and to keep the businesses in the family. For the most part young people would choose their own marriage partners, though...

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