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Marriage and Fertility

Marriage and Fertility: Studies in Interdisciplinary History

Robert I. Rotberg
Theodore K. Rabb
Stanley Chojnacki
Miriam Cohen
Emily R. Coleman
Cissie Fairchilds
Jean-Louis Flandrin
Susan Grigg
Barbara A. Hanawalt
Michael S. Hindus
William L. Langer
Peter Laslett
William Robert Lee
Robert V. Schnueker
Joan W. Scott
Edward Shorter
Daniel Scott Smith
George D. Sussman
Louise A. Tilly
Copyright Date: 1980
Pages: 384
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  • Book Info
    Marriage and Fertility
    Book Description:

    In this volume the articles are primarily on European history, but their subject matter indicates the remarkable variety, both of the marriage and fertility patterns of past societies, and of the methods scholars have used to investigate them.

    Originally published in 1981.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5441-7
    Subjects: Public Health

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. vii-2)

    With this volume the editors of theJournal of Interdisciplinary History, in association with Princeton University Press, launch a series of readers in interdisciplinary history. All will be designed to make investigations of specific themes more easily accessible for students at all levels. Two such collections have been published before, one on the history of the family, the other on the American Revolution, but we hope that henceforth these publications will be more regular and thus more comprehensive.

    Since the first collection derived from theJournal’s articles was devoted to the history of the family, it is appropriate that this...

  4. Medieval Marriage Characteristics: A Neglected Factor in the History of Medieval Serfdom
    (pp. 3-18)
    Emily R. Coleman

    Only recently have historians come to appreciate the role which demographic factors have played in the social history of the Middle Ages. In the traditional view, medieval society remained rigidly stratified and static; change, when it came, was attributable largely to external factors playing upon the medieval world—the opening of frontiers, the expansion of trade, and the growth of towns. All of this is true, but it does not represent a complete picture of the forces working to transform medieval society. This paper examines another factor, hitherto neglected by scholars, which apparently played a major role in the social...

  5. Childrearing Among the Lower Classes of Late Medieval England
    (pp. 19-40)
    Barbara A. Hanawalt

    Anxiety about the breakdown of the modern family, the application of Freudian and Eriksonian models of child development to historical subjects, and the study of households by demographers combined to make Ariès’Centuries of Childhoodthe center of debate and the object of attack among social historians. Ariès suggested that the sentimental concept of the family existing for the sake of rearing children was a modern idea which developed in early modern Europe in response to the loss of other familial functions to the centralized state and the exigencies of industrialization. In the Middle Ages, he argued, the family had...

  6. Dowries and Kinsmen in Early Renaissance Venice
    (pp. 41-70)
    Stanley Chojnacki

    In the fifteenth canto of theParadiso(ll. 103–105) Dante wistfully observed that in contrast to his own time, the epoch of his great-great-grandfather, Cacciaguida, did not see fathers taking fright at the birth of daughters. In those good old days, dowries had not yet “fled all limitation.” Dante may have been indulging in a familiar kind of romanticizing; certainly twelfth-century Florentine fathers also had to face responsibility for their daughters’ dowries. But his laments about the rise in dowries had plenty of echoes. In fact, the problems that the dowry institution itself, and especially dowry inflation, posed in...

  7. Elizabethan Birth Control and Puritan Attitudes
    (pp. 71-84)
    Robert V. Schnucker

    The eighteen-year-old Mary Fitton, second daughter of Sir Edward Fitton, was sent to Queen Elizabeth’s court in 1595 with the hope that as a lady-in-waiting, she would not only receive proper training but, at a propitious time, would be able to secure a fine husband. Since she had reached the full bloom of youth, she was attracted to and became attractive to some of the young men at court. In the course of events, Mary and the Earl of Pembroke became very close friends. What probably began as a casual relationship quickly developed into a scandal that embarrassed Mary, the...

  8. Illegitimacy, Sexual Revolution, and Social Change in Modern Europe
    (pp. 85-120)
    Edward Shorter

    Sexuality in traditional society may be thought of as a great iceberg, frozen by the command of custom, by the need of the surrounding community for stability at the cost of individuality, and by the dismal grind of daily life. Its thawing in England and Western Europe occurred roughly between the middle of the eighteenth and the end of the nineteenth centuries, when a revolution in eroticism took place, specifically among the lower classes, in the direction of libertine sexual behavior. One by one, great chunks—such as premarital sexuality, extra- and intra-marital sexual styles, and the realm of the...

  9. Bastardy and the Socioeconomic Structure of South Germany
    (pp. 121-162)
    W. R. Lee

    According to Davis, the bastard “… is a living symbol of social irregularity, an undeniable evidence of contramoral forces.”¹ Although the problem of bastardy, in its various forms (whether adulterous, incestuous, or violating caste endogamy), has traditionally faced many different types of society in which the act of marriage was an integral norm of socialization, its magnitude increased considerably in certain areas of Europe in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. This development has been described as part of the thawing process of the “great iceberg” of sexuality in traditional society, culminating in a veritable “sexual revolution” and involving a...

  10. Female Sexual Attitudes and the Rise of Illegitimacy: A Case Study
    (pp. 163-218)
    Cissie C. Fairchilds

    One of the most puzzling aspects of European demographic history is the apparent rise in illegitimacy in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Illegitimate births formed only a miniscule number of the total registered births before 1750; in France the figure is on the order of 1 or 2 percent. But by the end of the eighteenth century an illegitimacy ratio of 5 percent is common, and by the middle of the nineteenth, levels of 10 and 20 percent are the norm, and some are even higher.¹ It is estimated, for example, that fully one third of all the...

  11. Women’s Work and European Fertility Patterns
    (pp. 219-248)
    Louise A. Tilly, Joan W. Scott and Miriam Cohen

    During the nineteenth century most commentators on the “condition of the working classes” attributed large families and frequent illegitimacy among the poor to social, economic, or moral pathology. For Engels overpopulated working-class families were the offspring of industrial capitalism. For Malthus they were evidence of imprudence, of an inability to make rational calculations. For both, as for many government investigators and social reformers, high rates of fertility among married and single workers were both indicators and causes of misery and deprivation. Since the nineteenth century, of course, there have been many debates about the effects of industrialization on the standard...

  12. Parisian Infants and Norman Wet Nurses in the Early Nineteenth Century: A Statistical Study
    (pp. 249-266)
    George D. Sussman

    Statistical studies of the wet-nursing business, a peculiarly French institution which flourished in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, have usually depended upon either of two types of sources, both of which have their weaknesses. First, there are the studies based upon a systematic exploitation of the parish register for a rural commune where urban babies were placed with wet nurses. The limitation with such studies is that they only inform us about thosenourrissonswho died while out to nurse, so there is no direct evidence concerning, for instance, the length of stay for the survivors nor the mortality rate...

  13. The Origins of the Birth Control Movement in England in the Early Nineteenth Century
    (pp. 267-284)
    William L. Langer

    The early nineteenth century, in England as in Europe generally, was a period of almost chronic depression and social crisis. To the far-reaching dislocations of the Industrial Revolution were added the costs of the great wars, the widespread unemployment following the demobilization of the armies, and the phenomenal increase in the size of the population after 1760. Despite all efforts to combat the prevalent poverty, the numbers of the destitute continued to multiply and the costs of relief, which devolved upon the parishes, assumed frightening proportions. Where in 1750 they had totalled only some£600,000, by the 1780s they had...

  14. Age at Menarche in Europe since the Eighteenth Century
    (pp. 285-300)
    Peter Laslett

    Age at sexual maturation is of obvious interest to historians of the family. It determines the point at which children reach the crisis of adolescence and begin the process of asserting their independence from their parents, and from the family of origin generally. It marks the stage at which they become capable of full sexual intercourse, and, for girls, of experiencing menstruation, both of which stages are often of crucial psychological significance. It introduces the possibility of procreation, which immediately implies stringent social control. For no community at any period, whatever its resources, can ever allow individuals to reproduce at...

  15. Toward a Theory of Remarriage: A Case Study of Newburyport at the Beginning of the Nineteenth Century
    (pp. 301-338)
    Susan Grigg

    When a marriage ends in one spouse’s death, the widow or widower is apt to survive for years and even decades. This was true in the eighteenth century as it is in the twentieth, and the age of the survivor has only secondary importance.¹ A knowledge of influences on the likelihood of remarriage is therefore essential to an appreciation of the personal and social consequences of widowhood. Yet historians of the family have seldom given the subject much attention, despite the implications of failure to remarry for the welfare of the widow or widower and the survival of the household....

  16. Premarital Pregnancy in America 1640-1971: An Overview and Interpretation
    (pp. 339-372)
    Daniel Scott Smith and Michael S. Hindus

    Sexual expression is a basic human drive and its control, a ubiquitous feature of all societies. Although all cultures prescribe sexual intercourse within marriage, in Western and especially American society sex has been proscribed without. Since behavior obviously does not always conform to norms, essential to uncovering the history of sex is some objective measure of the extent of non-marital intercourse. As Schumpeter once put it, “we need statistics not only for explaining things but also in order to know precisely what there is to explain.”¹ Since children are a measurable, if not inevitable, result of intercourse, premarital pregnancy—operationally...

  17. The Contributors
    (pp. 373-374)