Elizabethan women had very little choice in husbands.
Marriages were arranged by their families in order to bring prestige or wealth to the families involved.
While the religions varied, the basic process was the same.
Wealthy and noble Elizabethan women sometimes received an education, but poor women did not.
Eric Rasmussen explains the complex process of getting married in Shakespeare’s England, and the way this worked for young Will himself.
He explores the tension, in Shakespeare’s plays, between the old order, in which fathers chose their daughters’ husbands, and the new order based on mutual love, but still plagued by the threat of infidelity.
Marriage was considered more of a business arrangement between the families than a relationship between a man and a woman.
Elizabethan law gave men full control over their wives.
The ‘Fleet marriage’ was so named because the Fleet prison in London offered the venue; as a prison it claimed to be independent of church marriage strictures, and rapid – or secret – marriages could be carried out.Elizabethan wives were also required to run the household and give their husbands children.Though most often uneducated academically, they were taught housekeeping and even herbal medicine by the older women in their families.As Europe modernized, however, the Puritans and others began to champion the novel idea of marriages based on mutual inclination and love.Time and again Shakespeare’s plays dramatise the conflict between the old order in which fathers chose husbands for their daughters and the new order in which daughters wished to choose their own mates based on affection.