‘In time meet and convenient’ – Betrothal in Early Modern England

Once a man had settled on the qualities he wanted in a spouse, and with the help of family and friends had sought such a woman out, courted her and secured not only her own agreement but that of her family, the next step to be taken on the path to marriage was betrothal. Betrothal … Continue reading ‘In time meet and convenient’ – Betrothal in Early Modern England

Book Review – Crimen Exceptum: The English Witch Prosecution in Context by Gregory J Durston

Despite years of cool-headed scholarship over several decades, the idea still persists in the popular imagination that during the period known as the 'witch craze' millions of women were rounded up and burned at the stake often for nothing more than their skill with herbal remedies. While thousands of women, and men, believed to be … Continue reading Book Review – Crimen Exceptum: The English Witch Prosecution in Context by Gregory J Durston

A Horrible Pestiferous Vice or Wholesome Exercise? – Dancing in Elizabethan England

Elizabeth I Dancing with Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester Philip Stubbs, the Puritan pamphleteer, in his Anatomie of Abuses (1582-3) had little good to say about dancing unless men and women were dancing separately to the glory of God, following the example of King David. He described it as 'an introduction to whordom, a preparatiue … Continue reading A Horrible Pestiferous Vice or Wholesome Exercise? – Dancing in Elizabethan England

The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold

Between August and November 1888, five women were killed in Whitechapel, all believed to be the victim of a single killer. The identity and the behaviour of the killer has fascinated multitudes since to the point where the killer has achieved almost mythic status, the women he killed dismissed as prostitutes, mere footnotes to the … Continue reading The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold

‘Seldom doth the husband thrive without leave of his wife’ – The Sixteenth Century Manor Wife

A slightly more succinct version of this post was published on Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots on 8 July 2019. Sixteenth century conduct manuals advised a man seeking a wife to consider everything from the woman’s age, appearance, health, obedience and piety, to her love of children, singing voice and ability to be silent. … Continue reading ‘Seldom doth the husband thrive without leave of his wife’ – The Sixteenth Century Manor Wife

Book Review – Tombland by C.J. Sansom

1549. Edward VI, the eleven-year-old son of Henry VIII has been on the throne two years. The country is effectively run by the Lord Protector, Edward Somerset. The preceding decade has seen war with Scotland, inflation, unemployment, rising rents and declining wages. A sense of grievance is swelling among the common people against the imposition … Continue reading Book Review – Tombland by C.J. Sansom

Easter in Early Modern England

The Lenten and Easter season in pre-Reformation England was rich in sights and sounds and smells. Shrove Tuesday was celebrated with pancakes and football games, plays and masquerades. Ash Wednesday brought the blessing of ashes and their application by the priest to the foreheads of the faithful with the injunction ‘Remember O man that thou are … Continue reading Easter in Early Modern England