In the 16th and 17 century, love and happiness were an important part of being married and having children for some people, but, for others it wasn’t. The aim of this essay is to look at various examples of peoples’ private lives in the 16th and 17th century, and identify which sources agree with this statement, in order to see if love and happiness were an important part of getting married and having children in the 16th and 17th century. By private lives we mean the life that goes on at home.
One example to show that love and happiness and having children were an important part of being married in the late 1500s is Ralph Josselin’s diary. He wrote that he got married by love and he also suggested his daughter’s husband. A sermon from the Bishop of Aylmer also backs up this statement. He basically said that you should choose who you’re marrying to wisely. There is also the diary of Samuel Pepys and parts of it show love and happiness because it says that they were the best of friends by bedtime. Lucy Hutchinson also demonstrates this because she wrote that her husband ‘ruled the family very well’ and it shows that they trust each other. Another evidence is a Frenchman’s view to English marriages in 1741. He thought that it was terrible to marry a person you didn’t love.
On the other hand, not everyone married because they loved each other. For example, William Shaftoe forced his daughter to become his nephew’s wife. Another source which argues with the statement is the marriage of the Duke of Richmond’s son. They got married to settle a debt, and also the boy was from his school and the girl was sent from her nursery to the wedding. King Charles I’s daughter got married for political reasons. One source also tells us that some husbands would put a halter around his wife’s neck and lead her to the market place where she would be sold to the highest bidder. Sir Simmonds D’Ewes – who was from a rich family – was brought up by servants and was never loved. William Blundell’s report on the death of his 9th child disagrees with the statement as well. He wrote that his wife has upset him because she gave birth to an unwanted daughter.
As a result I think that love and happiness were an important part of getting married and having children in the 16th and 17th century for some people, but not everyone. Although some sources are more reliable and important than others, there are both sides to this argument. I think this because some people like Ralph Josselin got married by love, while others like the Duke of Richmond’s son got married to settle a debt.