Saturday, May 07, 2022

Question from Jim - Domestic violence and abuse in the Tudor era

I was wondering about domestic violence and abuse in this era. If a man in this era abused or beat his wife and / or his children, how would it be dealt with? Likewise, what would society think about a woman abusing her husband, or children and teenagers getting violent with or abusing their parents? Would there be any double standards there, depending on who was the victim and who was the perpetrator? Sincerely, Jim


Anonymous said...

Tudor England was a violent world. And that violence extended into the domestic sphere. Beating of wives was not uncommon, and it was not illegal. It was not even particularly frowned upon, since wives were commanded by religious authorities to obey their husbands in all things. And the punishment for disobedience was sometimes or often beating. And in regard to children, there were actually "how to" books on raising children that gave parents detailed instructions on *how* to beat their children. One such book advised that fists to the ears and head were to be avoided lest “with their rigor and cruelty” parents might accidentally “murder” their children. But the liberal use of the rod was positively encouraged, even to the point of that it resulted in bruises and bleeding. An excellent book on the subject is "When Fathers Ruled: Family Life in Reformation Europe" by Steven Ozment.

But wives using violence against their husbands, or children against their parents, was an entirely different thing. Women could be (an were) severely punished if found guilty of violence against their husbands. But oddly enough (from a modern viewpoint), the husband who was subject to the abuse also suffered significant shaming from his male peers because he was considered to have lost the masculine upper hand to "a mere woman." His "manhood" was damaged, an dabused husbands were considered weak. And for children who used violence against parents, it was considered a clear violation of the commandment to "honor thy parents." Thus, any child (whether adult or minor) who used violence against a parent (or any elder) might also be severely punished.

Jim said...

Hi, I appreciate your response to my question, thank you. Personally, I hate that domestic abuse ( perpetrated by men ) was so socially acceptable centuries ago. I have a wife and two kids and I would never dream of treating them this way! I did however read someone else’s reply to a question a woman named Anne asked on a similar subject, and was relieved to learn that not ALL men even back then abused their wives/children. There were some that actually treated them very well and with kindness and respect.