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9-08-2015, 15:01


Drawing on the ideas of ancient Greek physicians and scientists, people in early modern Europe thought of their bodies as containing fl uids that infl uenced health. To them, illness was caused by an imbalance in these fl uids, for which bloodletting was the most common treatment, although they also used a range of other medicines. Food was more important than medicine in keeping the body healthy, and what people ate was determined by social class and religious teachings. Many children died young, and those who survived began their training for adulthood at an early age. As young people reached adolescence, the experiences of boys and girls grew more distinct from one another. Among young men, drinking and wild behavior were tolerated, but young women were expected to maintain their honor, and could be punished harshly for sexual misconduct, particularly pregnancy out of wedlock. Most people married, although they married earlier in eastern and southern Europe than in northern and western Europe. Even when divorce came to be allowed in some Protestant areas it was rare, but many people lost a spouse to death and then remarried. Because women often married men who were older than they were, widows were more common than widowers, and older women were poorer than were older men. Death came at all stages of life, and the living cared for the dying and memorialized the dead with a variety of rituals. Men and women progressed up and down the “great staircase of the world” as individuals, but on each step most of them also saw themselves and were viewed by others as part of various groups. Along with a sense of membership, families, guilds, and religious organizations also provided people with their most intimate experiences of relationships of power, for even the more egalitarian of these, such as religious communities of monks or nuns, had hierarchical structures of authority and leadership. All of these local groups formed the basis for broader hierarchies of power such as cities, territories, states, and nations, the subject of the next chapter. QUESTIONS 1 How did early modern understandings of the way the body functioned shape medical treatment? 2 How were childhood and adolescence different for boys and girls? 3 What sorts of sources provide evidence about sexual attitudes and behavior in early modern Europe, and which sexual activities do these indicate were of most concern to communities? 4 How did marriage and patterns of marriage differ geographically and by social class? In what ways was marriage similar across Europe? 5 How did people express their sense of obligation to the elderly, the dying, and the deceased? What social and religious values shaped their actions? 6 What groups and networks beyond the household were important to people, and why? FURTHER READING Along with Jacob Burckhardt’s Civilization of the Renaissance , the classic discussion of individualism is Alan Macfarlane, The Origins of English Individualism: The Family, Property, and Social Transition ( Cambridge: Cambridge University Press , 1979). Thomas C. Heller , ed., Reconstructing Individualism: Autonomy, Individuality, and the Self in Western Thought ( Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press , 1986), provides essays that challenge or nuance Macfarlane. A good overview of the cultural construction of the body is provided in Kate Fisher and Sarah Toulalan , Bodies, Sex and Desire from the Renaissance to the Present ( London: Palgrave-Macmillan, 2011), and more specialized essays can be found in Julia L. Hairston and Walter Stephens, The Body in Early Modern Italy ( Baltimore : Johns Hopkins University Press , 2010). Food and drink have been examined in Barbara Ketchum Wheaton, Savoring the Past: The French Kitchen and Table from 1300 to 1789 ( New York : Touchstone , 1989), and A. Lynn Martin, Alcohol, Sex, and Gender in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe ( New York : Palgrave-Macmillan, 2001), while clothing and consumer goods are surveyed in Lisa Jardine , Worldly Goods: A New History of the Renaissance ( New York : Norton, 1996), Ann Rosalind Jones and Peter Stallybrass, Renaissance Clothing and the Materials of Memory ( Cambridge: Cambridge University Press , 2000), and Ulinka Rublack, Dressing Up: Cultural Identity in Renaissance Europe ( Oxford : Oxford University Press , 2012). Scholarship on sexuality has exploded in recent years. For a broad overview from ancient times to the present, see Anna Clark, Desire: A History of European Sexuality ( London: Routledge, 2008), and for the early modern period see Katherine Crawford , European Sexualities 1400–1800 ( Cambridge: Cambridge University Press , 2007) and Patricia Simons, The Sex of Men in Premodern Europe: A Cultural History ( Cambridge: Cambridge University Press , 2011). For collections, see Jacqueline Murray and Konrad Eisenbichler , eds., Desire and Discipline: Sex and Sexuality in the Premodern West ( Toronto : University of Toronto Press , 1996), and Louise Fradenburg and Carla Freccero , eds., Premodern Sexualities ( New York : Routledge, 1996). For specifi c parts of Europe, see Eve Levin, Sex and Society in the World of the Orthodox Slavs, 900–1700 ( Ithaca, NY : Cornell University Press , 1989), and Guido Ruggiero , Machiavelli in Love: Sex, Self, and Society in the Italian Renaissance ( Johns Hopkins University Press , 2008). Christiane Klapisch-Zuber , Women, Family, and Ritual in Renaissance Italy ( Chicago: University of Chicago , 1985), sees family life as especially diffi cult for women, while Alan Macfarlane, Marriage and Love in England: Modes of Reproduction 1300–1840 ( Oxford : Basil Blackwell, 1986), presents a more positive picture. André Burguière et al., eds., A History of the Family, 2 vols. ( Cambridge, MA : Harvard University Press , 1996), and David I. Kertzer and Marzio Barbagli, eds., The History of the European Family, vol. I: Family Life in Early Modern Times, 1500–1789 ( New Haven : Yale University Press , 2001), present a range of essays, while Trevor Dean and K. J. P. Lowe, eds., Marriage in Italy, 1300–1650 ( Cambridge: Cambridge University Press , 1998), and Martha C. Howell, The Marriage Exchange: Property, Social Place, and Gender in the Cities of the Low Countries, 1300–1500 ( Chicago: University of Chicago Press , 1998), explore specifi c parts of Europe. For a good overview of the various ways historians have investigated the family, see Michael Anderson, Approaches to the History of the Western Family, 1500–1914, 2nd edn ( New York : Cambridge University Press , 1995). On childhood, see Nicholas Orme, Medieval Children ( New Haven : Yale University Press , 2003), which includes material through the sixteenth century. A demographic study of family structures and patterns is E. A. Wrigley , English Population History from Family Reconstitution 1580–1837 ( Cambridge: Cambridge University Press , 1997). Rituals and ideas involving death and dying are explored in Ralph Houlbrooke , Death, Religion, and the Family in England, 1480–1750 ( Oxford : Oxford University Press , 1998), Bruce Gordon and Peter Marshall, eds., The Place of the Dead: Death and Remembrance in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe ( Cambridge: Cambridge University Press , 2000), and Craig Koslofsky , The Reformation of the Dead: Death and Ritual in Early Modern Germany (New York : Palgrave-Macmillan, 2000). For more suggestions and links see the companion website www.cambridge.org/wiesnerhanks. NOTES 1 Jacob Burckhardt , Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, 2 vols. ( New York : Harper and Row , 1958), vol. I, p. 143. First published in German in 1860. 2 Baldasar Heseler , Andreas Vesalius’ First Public Anatomy at Bologna 1540: An Eyewitness Report, ed. Ruben Eriksson ( Uppsala: Almqvist and Wiksells , 1959), p. 181. 3 Strasbourg Archives Municipales, Statuten, vol. XXXIII, no. 61 (1665). My translation. 4 John Hajnal, “ European Marriage Patterns in Perspective ,” in D. V. Glass and D. E. C. Eversley, eds., Population in History ( London: Edward Arnold , 1965), 101–43. 5 Christine de Pizan , The Treasure of the City of Ladies: Or, the Book of Three Virtues (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1985), p. 157.