Church Courts, Sex and Marriage in England, 1570-1640

Church Courts, Sex and Marriage in England, 1570-1640

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Cambridge University Press

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Church Courts, Sex and Marriage in England, 1570-1640

Adultery, fornication, breach of marriage contract, sexual slander - these, along with religious offences of various kinds, were typical of the cases dealt with by the ecclesiastical courts in Elizabethan and early Stuart England. What was it like to live in a society in which personal morality was regulated by law in this fashion? How far-reaching was such surveillance in actual practice? How did ordinary people view the courts - as useful institutions upholding accepted standards, or as an alien system purveying unwanted values? How effective were the church courts in influencing attitudes and behaviour? Previous assessments of ecclesiastical justice, coloured by contemporary puritan and common law criticisms, have mostly been unfavourable. This in-depth, richly documented study of the sex and marriage business dealt with under church law, based on the records of the courts in Wiltshire, Cambridgeshire, Leicestershire and West Sussex in the period 1570-1640, presents a more balanced and more positive view.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780521386555
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Publication date: 03/29/1990
Series: Past and Present Publications Series
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 412
Product dimensions: 5.43(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.94(d)

Table of Contents

List of tables; List of maps; Preface; Conventions and abbreviations; Introduction; Part I. The Legal and Social Background: 1. The structure of ecclesiastical justice; 2. Economic and social structures; 3. Religion and the people; 4. Sex and marriage: laws, ideals and popular practice; Part II. Sex and Marriage: The Pattern of Prosecutions: 5. Matrimonial causes: (i) the breakdown of marriage; 6. Matrimonial causes: (ii) marriage formation; 7. Prenuptial fornication and bridal pregnancy; 8. Incest, adultery and fornication; 9. Aiding and abetting sexual offences; 10. Sexual slander; Part III. Church Courts and Society: 11. The effectiveness of ecclesiastical justice; 12. Church courts and society in 1640: retrospect and prospect; Bibliography; Index.

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