Sunday, June 14, 2009

Question from Jacque - Marriage expectations for men

I understand that women, particularly ones of higher class were expected either to marry or enter into convents. But what about the men? Was it considered acceptable for men to remain single and yet not enter into a Church profession?


  1. Men, like women, were expected to marry. This was true for all socio-economic levels. However, the notion that the options were limited to marriage or entry into a religious order is a bit of an over-generalization. There were instances of women who never married, as well as of men who never married, all without entering a religious order. (And recall that religious orders became essentially extinct in England after the Dissolution of the Monasteries.) Marriage was certainly the norm, but there were those who did not follow the norm.

  2. I think Elizabeth I considered it very acceptable for her favorite male courtiers to remain unmarried.

    However, of those favorites I think only Sir Christopher Hatton also saw it that way. He died unmarried. Her other favorites married, often secretly; sometimes for love, but they may have also felt they had a duty to their families to have children to inherit the wealth and property they may have acquired through their relationship with Elizabeth.

    I don't know a lot about Hatton, so I don't know whether contemporaries considered his conduct extremely odd and irresponsible, or whether the cult of Gloriana -- partaking heavily of chivalric romance -- somehow reconfigured people's perspectives to consider it a praiseworthy example of loyalty to the monarch.


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