In the story Magdalena and Balthasar by Steven Ozment's, one is able to reconstruct the lifestyle of a sixteenth-century merchant family that lived in Europe. The life styles specifically shown in Magdalena and Balthasar's relationship was anything but an average lifestyle. Although the couple dealt with many problems such as the separation due to business, they were able to keep their marriage stable through letters. In these letters one is able to uncover their beliefs about their family life, marriage, parenting, and the affects religion had on them. Although this specific couple had a unique relationship, one could come to some understanding of how a medieval persons' life was lived.
When analyzing pieces from these letters, one could conclude that marriage had to be filled with love, admiration, and cooperation to be successful. Given the role in 16th century society, the husband was the dominant figure and the wife was left with the household duties and children. However, some relationships were ahead of their times and was based solely on reciprocated compassion. If this bond could be achieved it brought a sense of equality in the understanding and responsibility of a marriage. The growing love in a marriage relationship was hard to accomplish. Whether the marriage was based on the similar backgrounds, or mutual feelings about equality, a successful marriage had to be worked on.
Many merchants at this time were extremely involved with their work. This meant that when work called they had to reply. If the job took the husband out of town the best way to maintain their relationship was through letters. Although it was hard to keep in touch there were many ways that they could communicate their love.
Another aspect that was seen in the medieval time period was the way in which the people expressed their love. In the relationship between Magdalena and Balthazar, Magdalena uses special valued objects in her letters in order to express her love. An example is when "she folds flowers from their garden into her letters to him"(Ozment 28). Likewise, Balthasar expressed his love for Magdalena through his unique writing style. In his letters he was able to express his love through simple words such as "honest, good, true, friendly, dearest, closest bride"(Ozment 28). It can be observed that the common attribute of expressing love in their relationship was not only limited to their relationship specifically, rather it applies to most sixteenth-century...