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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: May ::
Re: Marriage Patterns
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.0869  Tuesday, 18 May 1999.

[1]     From:   Melissa D. Aaron <
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        Date:   Monday, 17 May 1999 09:35:26 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0865 Various Responses

[2]     From:   Dana Shilling <
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        Date:   Monday, 17 May 1999 09:57:50 -0400
        Subj:   Marriage Patterns


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Melissa D. Aaron <
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Date:           Monday, 17 May 1999 09:35:26 -0400
Subject: 10.0865 Various Responses
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0865 Various Responses

>Dana Shilling writes:
>
>>A very common pre-modern marriage pattern was multiple marriages, each
>>lasting about 7 years (also the pre-divorce duration of the average
>>contemporary marriage!). Typically, a girl's first marriage would be to
>>a much older man, with her subsequent spouses getting progressively
>>YOUNGER-i.e., a widow with a good inheritance might marry a tradesman,
>>then after his death, marry the likeliest of the apprentices. Or, a man
>>would remarry after death of one or more wives in childbirth or of
>>disease.
>
>Can you document this as a "very common pre-modern marriage patern"?  It
>strikes me as being a summation of the career of the Wyf of Bathe...

The devil, as always, is in the details.  It's my understanding that the
average age of a working-class woman at first marriage was about what it
is in modern-day America--24 or 25.  However, if I'm remembering my
Deloney right, a very good way to rise in the world was to marry your
master's widow.  Jack of Newbury's first wife is his master's widow, who
seems a bit older-his second wife is younger, and incidentally,
better-born, too.  So while I would not generalize that a woman's
successive spouses would necessarily get younger and younger-after all,
she could just as easily marry a journeyman and set up shop together,
and in that case they'd have to wait until they had enough money-the
scenario delineated above is certainly possible.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Dana Shilling <
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Date:           Monday, 17 May 1999 09:57:50 -0400
Subject:        Marriage Patterns

The book of the Knight of La Tour Landry is a conduct book written by an
older man for the instruction of his teenage bride; it became popular I
presume because many others were in the same situation. As for broader
demographic patterns, I'm probably remembering Laslett & some of the
essayists in feminist & materialist Shakespeare criticism collections.

Dana Shilling

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