Chapter 20 - The Changing Life of the People

    Marriage and the family

    1. Extended and nuclear families
      1. The nuclear family, not the extended family, was most common in preindustrial western and central Europe.
        1. This conclusion is based on new studies of "parish registers."
      2. Early marriage was not common prior to 1750, and many women (perhaps as much as half) never married at all.
        1. In a typical English village, women and men married at twenty-seven.
      3. Marriage was commonly delayed because of poverty and/or local law and tradition.
    2. Work away from home
      1. Many boys left home to work as craftsmen or laborers.
      2. Girls left to work as servants--where they often were physically and sexually mistreated.
    3. Premarital sex and community controls
      1. Illegitimate children were not common in preindustrial society; premarital sex was common, but marriage usually followed.
        1. The traditional (openfield) village system was a check upon both illegitimacy and early marriage.
        2. Public action against domestic disputes and marital scandals was frequent--often taking the form of degrading public rituals.
      2. Birth control methods were primitive and undependable.
        1. Coitus interruptus was the most common form of birth control.
    4. New patterns of marriage and illegitimacy
      1. Between about 1750 and 1850 the number of illegitimate births soared--in some places from 2 to 25 percent of all births.
        1. Fewer young women were abstaining from premarital intercourse and fewer young men were marrying the women they got pregnant.
      2. One cause for this was that the growth of cottage industry (and later, the factory) resulted in people marrying earlier and for love.
      3. Another cause was that more young villagers were moving to towns and cities where they were no longer subject to village controls.
        1. Low wages, inequality, and changing economic and social conditions made it difficult for women to acquire a marriage based on romance.

    Children and Education

    1. Childhood was dangerous because of adult indifference, neglect, and even abuse.
    2. Child care and nursing
      1. Infant mortality was very high.
      2. Breast-feeding of children was common among poor women.
        1. Breast-fed infants were more likely to survive than the infant who was fed artificial foods.
      3. Middle and upperclass women hired wet nurses.
      4. The occupation of wetnursing was often exploitative of lowerclass women.
    3. Foundlings and infanticide
      1. "Killing nurses" and infanticide were forms of population control.
      2. Abortions were illegal and dangerous.
      3. Foundling hospitals were established but could not care for all the abandoned babies.
        1. Some had as many as 25,000 children.
        2. In reality, many were simply a form of legalized infanticide.
    4. Attitudes toward children
      1. Attitudes toward children were different from those of today, partly because of the frequency of death.
        1. Parents and doctors were generally indifferent to children.
        2. Children were often neglected or treated brutally.
      2. The Enlightenment brought about more humane treatment of children.
        1. Critics like Rousseau (see Listening to the Past) called for more love and understanding of children.
        2. The practice of swaddling was discouraged.
    5. Schools and popular literature
      1. Formal education outside the home became more important for the upper classes in the sixteenth century.
        1. But education for common people did not begin until the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
      2. Both Catholic and Protestant reformers encouraged popular education.
        1. Protestant Prussia led the way in universal education.
        2. Education was important in Presbyterian Scotland and elsewhere.
      3. Literacy increased, especially in France and Scotland, between 1700 and 1800.
        1. The Bible was still the favorite book, but new pamphlets called chapbooks became popular.
        2. Another form was popular literature, such as fairy tales, romances, and fictionalized history.
        3. Some popular literature dealt with practical arts; most new literature did not challenge the political and social system.

    Food and medical practice

    1. The life span of Europeans increased from twentyfive years to thirtyfive years between 1700 and 1800, partly because diet improved and plagues disappeared.
    2. Diet and nutrition had deteriorated by 1700
      1. The diet of ordinary people depended on grain.
        1. Peasants and poor people ate mainly grains and vegetables.
      2. Most people believed in the "just price," whereby fair prices would be upheld by the government if needed.
        1. This view eventually clashed with the view of a freemarket economy; food riots were often the result.
      3. Vegetables were important in the diet of the poor; milk and meat were rarely eaten.
        1. Only in Britain and the Low Countries did people eat more meat.
      4. Rich people ate quite differently from the poor.
        1. Their diet was rich in meat and wine.
        2. They spurned fruits and vegetables.
    3. The impact of diet on health
      1. There were nutritional advantages and disadvantages to the diet of the poor.
        1. Their breads were very nutritious; the basic breadandvegetables diet was adequate.
        2. The key dietary problem was getting enough green vegetables and milk.
      2. The rich often ate too much rich food.
    4. New foods, such as the potato, and new methods of farming brought on new patterns of food consumption.
      1. The potato substantially improved the diet of the poor.
        1. For some poor people, particularly in Ireland, the potato replaced grain as the primary food in the eighteenth century.
        2. Elsewhere in Europe, the potato took hold more slowly, but became a staple by the end of the century.
      2. There was a growth in market gardening and an improvement in food variety in the eighteenth century.
      3. There was some improvement in knowledge about diet, and Galen's influence declined.
      4. Greater affluence caused many to turn to less nutritious food such as white bread and sugar.
    5. The medical practitioners
      1. The Enlightenment led to research and experimentation in medicine and a rise in the number of practitioners.
        1. The demonic view of disease was common.
        2. Women were increasingly excluded from the medical professions.
        3. Faith healers were used to exorcise the demons.
      2. Apothecaries (pharmacists) sold drugs that were often harmful to their patients; some drugs worked but too much reliance was placed on purging the bowels.
      3. Physicians frequently bled or purged people to death.
      4. Surgeons made progress in treating wounds but they often operated without anesthetics and in the midst of dirt.
      5. Midwives were medical practitioners who treated various female needs--such as delivery of babies.
        1. For economic reasons, male surgeons discredited women midwives.
    6. Hospitals and medical experiments
      1. Patients were crowded together, often several to a bed.
      2. There was no fresh air or hygiene.
      3. Hospital reform, partly due to Diderot's writings, began in the late eighteenth century.
      4. Mental illness was misunderstood and treated inhumanely.
      5. Some attempts at reform occurred in the late eighteenth century.
    7. Medical experimentation intensified after 1750.
      1. Some medical experimentation was creative quackery.
      2. The conquest of smallpox was the greatest medical triumph of the eighteenth century; 80 percent of the population was stricken at some point in life.
        1. Montague's and Jenner's work on inoculation was the beginning of a significant decline in smallpox.
        2. Jenner's work laid the foundation for the science of immunology in the nineteenth century.
  1. Religion and popular culture
    1. The institutional church
      1. Despite the critical spirit of the Enlightenment, the local parish church remained important in daily life, and the priest or pastor was the link between the people and the church hierarchy.
      2. The Protestant belief in individualism in religion was tempered by increased state control over the church and religious life.
      3. Catholic monarchs also increased state control over the church, making it less subject to papal influence.
        1. Spain took control of ecclesiastical appointments and the Inquisition and, with France, pressured Rome to dissolve the Jesuits.
        2. In Austria, Maria Theresa and Joseph II greatly reduced the size and influence of the monasteries and convents.
    2. Protestant revival
      1. The complacency of earlier Protestantism ended with the advent of "Pietism," which stressed religious enthusiasm, popular education, and individual religious development.
      2. In England, Wesley was troubled by religious corruption, decline, and uncertainty.
        1. His Methodist movement rejected the Calvinist idea of predestination and stressed salvation through faith.
        2. Wesley's ministry brought on a religious awakening, particularly among the lower classes.
    3. Catholic piety
      1. In Catholic countries the old religious culture of ritual and superstition remained popular.
      2. Catholic clergy reluctantly allowed traditional religion to survive.
    4. Leisure and religion
      1. Carnival time saw a combination of religious celebration and popular recreation, often giving common people a chance to release their frustrations and aggressions.
      2. Common culture was oral, and participation tended to be by way of the group, not the individual activity.
      3. In the eighteenth century leisure tended to become more commercialized, including profitoriented spectator sports.
        1. Blood sports, such as bullbaiting, were popular.
      4. The educated elites and the clergy led an attack on popular entertainment--hence a wedge was driven between common people and the educated public.


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