Wife beating in Victorian England …The ‘Rule of Thumb’ …

Ever wondered where the term, ‘Rule of thumb’ came from? It derived from old British legal traditions which considered a husband the ruler of his wife. Once married a husband could be held legally liable for his wife’s conduct in early modern times and as such, it was a widely held belief a husband could strike his wife for ‘lawful correction’ or to ‘order and to rule her’. A famous judge Sir William Blackstone’s wrote an influential book in the eighteenth-century called Commentaries on the Law of England and stated, ‘For as the husband is to answer for his wife’s […]

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‘Mrs Beeton’ – the 19th century ‘Domestic Goddess’.

Did you know the 19th century ‘Mrs Beeton’ is largely regarded as the first ‘domestic goddess’- a title the delightful Nigella Lawson embodies today. ‘Mrs Beeton’, as she preferred to be called, (her matronly manor only served to endorse her relentless instruction) success was largely attributable to the fact her husband was a publisher, and she actually copied most recipes from the successful cooks of the day, however by 1868 three years after her death, nearly 2 million copies of her cookbook had been sold and by 1907 it had expanded to over 73 chapters. Between 1780 and 1850 Britain was industrialising. Towns were transforming into cities and the […]

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What did it mean to be a women in Europe from Medieval to Early Modern times?

When the historian Catherine Macaulay stated in her History of England, ‘the invidious censures which may ensue from striking into a path of literature rarely trodden by my sex……will not keep me mute in the cause of liberty.’ she was expressing her resentment well-educated, independent thinking women of Europe felt toward the perceived inferiority of their sex. Matters of political and intellectual importance were considered a man’s domain from medieval to the 18th century. Women were considered subordinate due to the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church,  where Eve was the cause of all sin! Influences of traditional medical and Greek philosophy also depicted woman as a ‘deformity’ or an imperfect man […]

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The 16th century Reformation & the elevation of women

The Catholic Church’s long held beliefs were rocked by the many changes of the 16th Century Reformation. Puritans in the 17th Century sought continued reform and idealized the church be rebuilt in the purest form of the 1st century, as established by Christ himself. Puritan theology endorsed an intense individual spiritual connection to God, without the need for the middle man, the priest, so fundamental in the Catholic religion to the ever sought after salvation. The Puritan was considered competent, conscientious and responsible, and believed only he needed await God’s special grace for salvation. Puritan worship was autocratic, hierarchical, and departed ways from the […]

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