Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Love, women and marriage in the XVII century.

Oh boy, there she goes again with one of those long and boring posts about history and stuff.
Hahahaha... yes, I am!

First of all I want you to know one thing: I link to Wikipedia a lot not because I'm a big fan of Wikipedia (it's actually very faulty, at times, because it's written by random people - strong opinionated ones but with no support whatsoever in their opinion, while one should always show sources - and unless the curator of that particular section is very attentive and fixes stuff you would find horrible things in it - such as Stephen Schwartz as the composer for the music of Enchanted LOL, poor Alan Menken!).

But the reason why I link to Wikipedia is to give you a rough idea... sometimes it has nice pictures too but, most of all, sometimes it has links to cool websites and a good bibliography. In short I hope you'd get curious enough to go research the topic in a library and get actual books.

For example... today I will link you to Historians: Georges Duby and Peter Burke.
If I were to link you to the Wikipedia page for women's history I would get a page like this
which says nothing on women's condition in the time span I am considering and, worst of all, does not includes in its bibliography the best books on women in history every written, by the above mentioned historians!

If you want to know about the condition of women you must read books such as: Love and Marriage in the Middle ages and see how they evolve from there into the women depicted in Volume III of the History of Women. Combine that with Peter Burke's books though. The English version of the Duby's books are a bit odd in the translation and if you are not in History major you are left pondering about locations and dates (while usually if you are in history major you figure them out by the description of certain costumes).

I'll make it short, now that I mentioned my sources (which include some Italian books and if you want to know about them let me know).

Why are the protagonists of The Pirate Balthasar so young?

When Dante begins his Divine Comedy saying: "Midway upon the journey of our life..." He means he is 35. So he expect to live up to his seventies. Mh, if so many century before he was expecting to die so old... why do they teach this in school?

Life span in the XVII century was: around 35 years old. Yeah, right!

It's the usual story: each Italian eat six chicken a month... but I am vegetarian so somebody is eating twelve!
Consider that infant mortality had a very high rate and lots of children did not reach their 5th year of life. But - let's say - you live in a quiet place, have a good diet, a good source of income (so you cannot be a farmer or a soldier or a sailor) you can live pretty long. Look, Francesco Cavalli, major opera composer, lived 74 years!

So let's say that, on average, people died when they were around 55 to 60 years old (taking the kids out of the calculations)... nowadays we have 20 more years, to enjoy in our old age, that's why people marry late.

What was a good age to get married, then?

That also depends on the Region and you position in society. If you are a farmer you could marry at 25, so that's not too young, and I am talking about girls. Did you reach the first night as a virgin? Not necessarily. Plus you get to marry for love, in most cases, but would not reach your 45th birthday. That makes 20 years of love and hard life with your sweetie.
Ah but if you are upper class numbers change. Marriages are combined... you get to marry when you are 12 to a man that could be your grandfather... and live a miserable life for 40 to 50 more years.

Sexual life?

See, if you are poor and marry your sweetie when you are 25 and die at 40... you cannot be surprised at the fact you have 6 to 12 kids. Sure you need to give birth because more arms means more help in the work... but if you have 7 children and they help around the house and work in the field, you still have to feed them. Imagine feeding 14 kids (and there are no contraceptive so to make 12 kids, on average, you are very active). So, for once, let's put away the classic thought: I don't do it for please but to obey God's will (go and multiply!). No no... you live the toughest life you can imagine and you go to bed at night tired but cold and there's nothing to do but to wait for dawn... sometimes goats and chicken sleep in the same room with you (but they are used to your stench). There's no TV, no internet, you cannot read and your wife is right there! What do you do? Come oooon! The same stuff you used to do to her before you got married... sweet - or not so sweet - love!

You are rich and you married a guy you hate. You just need to give him one heir... Ops, it's a girl, no good. Let's try a second child. Ah, he is sickly looking... so you give him a backup son. Shit, it's a girl! Okay let's go for a fourth kid but this is it.
For 40 more years I can ignore you and feed on lard and drink wine. Oh, the painter is coming to paint of the family? Good! What? The kids don't look like each other at all? What do you mean the fourth soon looks like the gardener? (and are you surprised he looks so healthy too? Look at the gardener, will ya?) ...and stuff like that!

Now that you got the picture let's answer our question:

Castalia and her sister are not from a super upper class family but they belong to a good family still. They are supposed to live a better life, even though they actually don't until they get on board. At 16 they are, indeed, spinsters! Why aren't they married? Potentially only two of them hope for a good marriage: Cassandra and Cassiopea, the most accomplished ladies.
Lio has no hope for marriage and that's why she fools around (and she is right!), she could eventually marry a merchant or a military. Callista is considered retarded so she is bad blood. Castalia is considered bad blood due to her insanity as well.
Lio would probably be the only one to find a companion in the end, if they were to stay on the island, because she would settle for any kind of man she would like. The other four would stay single, Pea would probably become a nun, eventually.
Lucky! They got kidnapped, eh?

As for the guys... I made a mistake in the doctor's description, I just realized it LOL.
Martin is 26, Kane is a mystery but... he is around that age too, you know, Josh is 25, the Doctor is 24 (not 22) and Cat and Foxy are the babies 20 and 19 years old. It's okay for Cat and Foxy to be single but Martin, Kane, Josh and the Doctor should be married already, like the rest of the crew because, eventually, they only have about 20 years of life ahead of themselves (if they are lucky)! Martin, Kane and the Doctor act like educated upper class men. Cat and Foxy are plebeians, so they fool around, hahaha. Josh acts however he likes!

Final question: is marriage the ultimate goal in life?

I am not a romantic person and I don't believe marriage is the ultimate goal in life for a girl. In fact I am single and I pursue my own happiness through personal accomplishments. But I was born in the 70's and I am for equal opportunity and stuff like that.

My girls are my opposite! They were born in the XVII century and have been raised by three nuns, do they want to get married? They do. I also think it's their ultimate goal in life. So they shall pursue love until they get married, eventually, because it's every girls' dream they are dreaming of. If I were to make them feminists or less feminine I would completely betray them and their dreams. I'd be a bad mom.
Even Castalia, you know, with all of her bravery and sword making skills... never interested in guys... only focused on the world out there... she did say yes on the spot when she met Kane! It's all about "the right guy", after all! She is still a girl.
Heck, she is the first one to get married!
So, I am sorry for the cliche' but... there was really nothing outside of being a bride and a mother back then! Ah, but keep an eye open: this thinking will affect them all in a different way.

Now when it comes to putting together sex and marriage we need to talk about the talk.
The talk usually comes the night before the wedding.
The older married women of the household would explain you about how babies are born and what to do with your husband. Of course some girls get the talk earlier, from older sisters maybe, or they happen to stumble on things. We already saw what the sex life was like for the lower classes... so a few malicious thought would be around and experimentation was possible.

But for good girls the talk would come the night before the wedding.
What if the older women in the household are nuns? Then... Houston... we got a problem!

I shall leave you with one question: have you noticed? There are no forks on board! Table manners... should we talk about them one of these days?


Supervillain said...

I find the history, culture, lifestyle and information of the 17th (?) century in your posts to be very fascinating! *U* and it just shows how much love, thinking and dedication you've put into the creation of the story!
... And the little things you've mentioned in this post about the characters are fantastic, and I can see how it shows in their personalities - especially with the girls!

And yes, table manners need to be dealt with hahaha XD <3

winzrella said...

I enjoyed reading this and knowing more good sources! Thans for pointing out the history books and writers :)

The way you have read history and use it so much in your story helps me to get very inspired! I hope to one day write a comic based in Finnish history. This is why I keep on reading and collecting history books.
Also, I quess it's just a family trait to be crazy about history (for four generations people have been collecting and reading history books like crazy XD).

Now I have to write up the names of those writers ;)

Unknown said...

I wanted to say that the OC I planned for fiction (Frede) does want to find the "right one" too, but I'm wondering to no end how reasonable her standards (which I bring up here and there, I could put it up later if you like) might be for that time...

Joanna said...

Now I understand this better. It makes sense!
Thanks, this is really good information! I always loved History so this is quite interesting to me!
Thank you! 8D

Black Legacy said...

Not to mention Michelangelo! He lived over 80!
I am really enjoying reading all your history lessons here, They're really fun and interesting and provide a lot more insight to the story! :)
You can tell a lot of thought went into this! ^^

Brii333 said...

I find these posts very interesting... fills in the gaps in what I already know, lol. But my question is... What is wrong with Callista? She just seemed shy and clumsy to me.

dedasaur said...

she is shy and clumsy but it is because she believes to have big feet - also clumsy was not a very good quality in women in the past and stuttering was considered an illness.