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Summary of Magdalena and Balthasar: Story of a Sixteenth Century Marriage

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Book Analysis 1: Magdalena AND Balthasar

Steven Ozment examines the marriage between a sixteenth century German merchant and his wife. The publication illustrates the adversities of a long distance marriage, the Black Plague that passed through Germany, the passing of little Balthasar, their only child, as well as the trade of business that assists the binding of the two and their union together. Magdalena and Balthasar write letters back and forth to one another in an attempt to keep each other sane. The disposition of their marriage held a robust love for one another. Their letters were exchanged during the time of Balthasar's business travels. The numerous amount of diverse emotions, misfortunes, and affection that Magdalena and Balthasar exuded within their relationship embodied who they were as a couple.

The first place he wrote to his wife was from Lucca. Magdalena would receive his letter about three to four weeks later in their hometown of Nuremberg. Among the letters exchanged between the two, eight were written by Balthasar and three by Magdalena. Magdalena's first letter was received from Lucca. “...longing and heartfelt joy” is how Magdalena feels as she collected Balthasar's letters. Impressions of love, allegiance, and affection is clearly displayed within their letters to each other.

Although their undoubted love is apparent, apprehensions were very well existent as well. Instances such as when Magdalena became indignant towards Balthasar for not writing back to her as soon as he received her new letter. A preeminent reason for Magdalena being as upset as she was for not getting a response back as soon as she hoped was due to her awareness of the conditions and diseases that were ever so prevalent. Th...

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...atters of their relationship. While her husband was away, she took on an authoritative role within her husbands business affairs while he was absent. Having access to male clients, helped her in deciding what needed to be done and delivered. It started to play out as a partnership, in which they each had their own individual roles in terms of livelihood. They began to overlap within their affairs, where they would have not been successful in their trade without each other in order to attain a successful business and home. Magdalena was trusted with all that was included within their business matters.

Overall, Magdalena and Balthasar had what seemed to be the “ideal” relationship all the while obtaining a marriage that was fitting for their own contentment. Although dealing with personal burdens and hardships, their overall comprehensive relationship held love.
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