The Making of Marriage - 1500-1800 Analytical Essay by Lucy3

The Making of Marriage - 1500-1800
The paper examines the factors contributing to marriages in the United Kingdom between the years 1500 to 1800.
# 112845 | 1,950 words | 6 sources | MLA | 2009 | GB
Published on Mar 10, 2009 in History (British) , Women Studies (Marriage)

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The author of this paper examines the institution of marriage between the years 1500 to 1800 in the United Kingdom and the various factors that influenced both the decision to marry and at which stage in life to marry. The paper contends that the decision to marry was not decided by one individual factor, but rather a combination of traditions and influences including love, choice and family interest but primarily, economic considerations. The paper attempts to show that, contrary to the commonly held belief, marriage and the marriage partner during this period was a matter of choice between the two individuals marrying and that in the United Kingdom, the conventions regarding marriage where much more liberal than in the rest of Europe.

From the Paper:

"Despite there being no laws stating a need for parental involvement many more young people valued the advice of parents and kin or were given said advice whether or not they asked due to the thought that 'marriage is far too important a matter to be left to the individuals concerned.' Regardless of this there were frequent cases of young people eloping to Gretna Green or getting married having ignored all the advice of their parents. In general, among the majority of the common people, marriage partners were freely chosen whilst the guidance of friends and parents was taken into account. It was sensible to consult peers and family in order to protect one's own interests and to ensure economic assistance and help with connections, advice and gifts. A sound economic foundation on which to lay a marriage could only be achieved with the approval of parents and friends. The degree of this varied according to the social level of the individual in that both the noble and upper strata would obviously uphold a stricter control over love and courtship behaviour than those in the lower strata."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Hindle, S, 'The problem of pauper marriage in seventeenth-century England' Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 6th Ser., Vol. 8. (1998), pp. 71-89.
  • Houlbrooke, R, The English Family 1450-1700 (Longman Group Ltd, 1984).
  • Ingram, M, Church courts, sex and marriage in England 1570-1640 (Cambridge, 1987).
  • MacDonald, M, 'Mystical bedlam: madness, anxiety and healing in seventeenth-century England' The Sixteenth Century Journal, Vol. 14. (Cambridge, 1981), pp. 364.
  • Macfarlane, A, Love and Marriage (Basil Blackwell Ltd, 1986).

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