When I began my research for this paper, I did not have a good understanding of the term "Renaissance". Therefore, I thought that it was a good idea to clarify on this before I tried to learn about what family life was like at that time, and I also thought it might be interesting to look at Shakespeare's family.
The word "Renaissance" means rebirth and refers to the 15th Century, between the years 1350 and 1600 (Greene Malvasi, par. 1). At this time, there were many changes being undergone, and one of the most important changes was the reappearance of cities, which influenced many aspects of life, including the structure of the family (Greene Malvasi, par. 1).
William Shakespeare was born in 1564, and was one of eight children. William's father was a glove-maker, who also held a number of public offices, ranging from Borough Ale-Taster to alderman to bailiff, the highest public office in Stratford ("Shakespeare's Family", par. 1). His mother was born Mary Arden, who was the daughter of a well-to-do landowner of a lesser aristocratic family ("Shakespeare's Family", par. 3). Interestingly, the family gave its name to the nearby Forest of Arden, which turns up in As You Like It ("Shakespeare's Family", par. 3).
Shakespeare's mother, being of a lower aristocratic family, and marrying into a higher family was common practice for marriages in the Renaissance. With parental permission, boys could legally wed at 14, and girls at 12, but it was not recommended at such a young age ("Marriage and Family", par. 1). This does sound like a young age. But in Renaissance Italy, children did not automatically become adults upon re...
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...any. New York, 1997. Greene Malvasi, Meg.
"A Renaissance Childhood". http://www.suite101.com/article.cfm/history_for_children/23417
"Heirs and Inheritance." http://renaissance.dm.net/compendium/41.html
Howard, Jean. 1591-1598. Introduction. As You Like It. Greenblatt, et al.
The Norton Shakespeare. W.W. Norton & Company. New York, 1997.
Jardine, Lisa. Still Harping on Daughters: Women and Drama in the Age of Shakespeare. The Harvest Press Limited, Sussex, Great Britain, 1983.
Maclean, Ian. The Renaissance Notion of Women. Cambridge University Press, New York, 1980.
"Marriage and Family." http://renaissance.dm.net/compendium/10.html
"Shakespeare's Family." http://web.uvic.ca/shakespeare/Library/SLTnoframes/life/family.html
"The Wife's Status." http://web.uvic.ca/shakespeare/Library/SLTnoframes/society/status.html
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