Lawrence Stone, The family, sex and marriage in England 1600-1800 Essay

Lawrence Stone, The family, sex and marriage in England 1600-1800 Essay

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Lawrence Stone’s book ‘The family sex and marriage in England 1600-1800’ is one of controversy and contrasting opinions about marriage in the medieval era. As a medievalist historian, Stone puts forward a conflicting perspective when it comes to the medieval family unit in providing a new interpretation of the medieval family unit. In producing such a notorious argument, Stone provided the beginnings of the debate that has now surrounded the medieval family. His work, has had a mixed reception in the history community sporting conflicting ideas about his distant view on marriage. Lawrence's book challenges the aspects of the making of marriage and the patterns of family relationships that have never before explored so closely.

The main subject matter of the book, argues there were multiple reasons why relations between men and women changed in Medieval England. In his anthology, Stone opens himself to counter attack from other medievalist historian when he states that there was hardly any love in English marriages before the eighteenth century, famously taking a ‘hard line’ when it comes to the view of medieval marriages. Throughout his book he questions the factor of love present in matrimony and has came to the idea that marriage was seen more of a pack with mutual rights and individual tasks. Stone also demonstrates the modern relevance of these radical changes when he states that there are three key features of the modern family that can be clearly seen in the medieval family unit.1

According to Alan Macfarlane, Stone’s ‘book provides an interesting example of the way in which a set of assumptions shapes the historian's evidence.’2 Stone sets major themes throughout his book while examining social attitudes and how they...


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...tone, The family, sex and marriage in England 1600-1800, in The Journal of Modern History, (1979), p.504.26 W. Monter,. review of Lawrence Stone, The family, sex and marriage in England 1600-1800, in The Journal of Modern History, (1979), p.503.27 W. Monter,. review of Lawrence Stone, The family, sex and marriage in England 1600-1800, in The Journal of Modern History, (1979), p.503.28 M. di Leonardo, ‘Methodology and the Misinterpretation of Women's Status in Kinship Studies: A Case Study of Goodenough and the Definition of Marriage’ in American Ethologist, VI. (1979) pp. 627-637 ‘29 E.S. Albion, ‘Law and the Theory of the Affective Family’ in A Quarterly Journal Concerned with British Studies,XVI (1984), pp.1-2030 J. Adams, ‘ The Familial State: Elite Family Practices and State-Making in the Early Modern Netherlands’ In Theory and Society, XXIII (1994), p505-539

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