Road to Divorce: England, 1530-1987

Road to Divorce: England, 1530-1987

by Lawrence Stone
     
 

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Lawrence Stone is one of the world's foremost historians. In such widely acclaimed volumes as The Crisis of the Aristocracy, The Family, Sex and Marriage in England and The Open Society, he has shown himself to be a provocative and engaging writer as well as a master chronicler of English family life. Now, with Road to Divorce, Stone examines the complex ways in

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Overview

Lawrence Stone is one of the world's foremost historians. In such widely acclaimed volumes as The Crisis of the Aristocracy, The Family, Sex and Marriage in England and The Open Society, he has shown himself to be a provocative and engaging writer as well as a master chronicler of English family life. Now, with Road to Divorce, Stone examines the complex ways in which English men and women have used, twisted, and defied the law to deal with marital breakdown.
Despite the infamous divorce of Henry VIII in 1529, Britons before the 20th century were predominantly, in Stone's words, "a non-divorcing and non-separating society." In fact, before divorce was legalized in 1857, England was the only Protestant country with virtually no avenue for divorce on the grounds of adultery, desertion, or cruelty. Yet marriages did fail, and in Road to Divorce, Stone examines a goldmine of court records—in which witnesses speak freely about love, sex, adultery, and marriage—memoirs, correspondence, and popular imaginative works to reveal how lawyers and the laity coped with marital discord. Equally important, in tracing the history of divorce, Stone has discovered a way to recapture the slow, irregular, and tentative evolution of moral values concerning relations between the sexes as well as the consequent shift from concepts of patriarchy to those of sexual equality. He thus offers a privileged, indeed almost unique, insight into the interaction of the public spheres of morality, religion, and the law.
Written by the foremost historian of family life, Road to Divorce provides the first full study of a topic rich in historical interest and contemporary importance, one that offers astonishingly frank and intimate insights into our ancestors' changing views about what makes and breaks a marriage.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Offers a grand theoretical overview of changes in attitudes toward marriage and divorce during the course of four-and-a-half centuries....The gossipy tabloid quality of Stone's stories about couples is precisely what gives them their value as historical reconstructions of sex and romance seen through the eyes of their time....Few other historians have so successfully combined analytical and narrative approaches, and few works of history have offered such an intimate and detailed view of the social customs of early modern England."--Commonweal

"Stimulating, instructive and filled with interesting and important questions."--Albion

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780198226512
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
10/28/1990
Edition description:
2002 Reprint
Pages:
528
Product dimensions:
6.50(w) x 9.50(h) x 1.42(d)
Lexile:
1680L (what's this?)

Meet the Author

Lawrence Stone is Dodge Professor of History, and Director of the Shelby Cullom Davis Center for Historical Studies at Princeton University.

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