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Was there a significant increase in freedom of choice of marriage partner in England between 1500-1750?

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Introduction

Was there a significant increase in freedom of choice of marriage partner in England between 1500-1750? Marriage is defined in the English dictionary as "the state of being united to a person of the opposite sex as husband or wife in a legal, consensual, and contractual relationship recognized and sanctioned by and dissolvable only by law.1"However, this definition had changed over time, and historians have different opinion on whether it has changed or have not. The dates given to study must have significance, unlike the ritual of marriage in the twenty first century; common marriages in the 1500's was one without witnesses or a ceremony, and soon after 1750, a new law was passed which stated the only legally valid form of marriage was in conducted in a church. Other changed must have occurred during 1500-1750, and it is this that will be investigated with consideration on the freedom of choice of marriage partner in England between these dates. A number of factors will be looked at in order to answer the question; was there a significant increase in freedom of choice of marriage partner in England between 1500-1750? These factors are, Marriage before 1500, reforms that were placed during 1500-1750, the result of these reforms, and finally, what changed after 1750. It difficult to point out a certain immediate changes in history and more specifically when looking at change in freedom of marriage, changes can occur over a period of time, so looking at marriage before 1500 can not be specifically pin pointed to one date. ...read more.

Middle

This would have proven difficult for many during the eighteenth century. Consequently, the freedom in marriage partner was very slim, as parents consent was needed, therefore it may not have been the man's personality but his wealth, and if he would be able to take care of their daughter. As a result of the 1653 act, a number of other religions held their own wedding ceremony, this many historians argue is the turning point in the freedom of choice of marriage partner, "the belief that Protestantism had introduced new and more positive attitudes towards women, ,marriage and sexuality has had a lengthy history. The medieval Catholic Church's insistence in clerical chastity meant that anti-female arguments had been widely employed by the pre-reformation clergy to reinforce the merits if celibacy as spiritually superior to marriage. In contrast, the reformed clergy - many of whom, like Luther and Calvin, were married - insisted that they held marriage and wives in greater esteem than did their celibate Catholic opponents9." Unfortunately, even though women were started to been seen in a different light by some reformists, they were still dependant on a husband, or father figure. Not only were unmarried women viewed suspiciously, but those who were not supported by their families faced severely limited opportunities for supporting themselves. Life outside marriage was far more difficult for women, than men, women' social roles were much more to do with their family responsibilities, and therefore, women who were not married were distrusted because they were not under authority of a male household head10. ...read more.

Conclusion

Church's calendar allowed people to marry when they wanted, and the new freedom that was encouraged by Protestant teaching made many see they had the choice, and did not have to listen to parents and so forth. Marriages in the late eighteenth century had changed from parent approval to love. 1 http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=marriage 2 Elaes Jacqueline, women in early modern England 1500-1700, David Birmingham, introductions to history, UCL Press 1998 p4 3 Laurence Anne, Women in England 1500-1760 a social history, 2nd edn, Orion Books ltd 1996 p42 4 Laurence Anne, Women in England 1500-1760 a social history, 2nd edn, Orion Books ltd 1996 p45 5 Laurence Anne, Women in England 1500-1760 a social history, 2nd edn, Orion Books ltd 1996 p42 6 Laurence Anne, Women in England 1500-1760 a social history, 2nd edn, Orion Books ltd 1996 p43 7 Laurence Anne, Women in England 1500-1760 a social history, 2nd edn, Orion Books ltd 1996 p44 8 Laurence Anne, Women in England 1500-1760 a social history, 2nd edn, Orion Books ltd 1996 p43 9 Elaes Jacqueline, women in early modern England 1500-1700, David Birmingham, introductions to history, UCL Press 1998p10 10 Langford Paul, A polite and commercial people England 1727-1783, Oxford 1989p143 11 Thomas Platter cited in Gender Sex and Subordination in England 1500-1800 p3 12 Langford Paul, A polite and commercial people England 1727-1783, Oxford 1989p144 13 Langford Paul, A polite and commercial people England 1727-1783, Oxford 1989p294 14 Elaes Jacqueline, women in early modern England 1500-1700, David Birmingham, introductions to history, UCL Press 1998 pp 121-122 ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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