Or getting a university (Inns of Court) education, entering the church (or the legal profession) and working your way up; or entering royal administration (members of the Privy Council automatically counted as nobles).
Social Structure: Towns 01
Merchants in towns (especially London) could get very rich, though their status remained ambiguous (theory was based on the countryside).
In Spain/ France, merchants lost social status; but not in England; their families often intermarried with nobles/ gentry.
Citizens (fully qualified traders) in London and other towns ranked somewhere around yeomen/ gentry.
A great mine-owner and financier was Thomas Sutton (d. 1611); he was wealthier than anyone other than the royal family and some nobles;
James I tried to have Sutton’s will declared legally invalid, so the crown could get the cash;
Sir Edward Coke upheld the will; it founded Charterhouse school (a public = private school).
The London Charterhouse (Sutton’s Hospital); now a charitable retirement home (the school moved to the countryside)
Towns. Rural variations.
Immigrants to London had a good chance of qualifying as a trader or skilled industrial producer (30-50% of male population did so); new suburbs arose in the East end (Stepney; Whitechapel); but disease struck.
Countryside: southeast more prosperous and hierarchical than northwest; local variations: many gentlemen in Lancashire; few in Lincolnshire. Society hierarchical in arable areas but not in wood-pasture districts, which were much more egalitarian (and poorer).
Idea of a link between puritanism, parliamentarianism, and wood-pasture areas.
Idea that as population grew, and economic problems increased, women were forced into privateroles in family, and out of public/ economic roles.
Brewers. Problems with the theory.
Women in power: Matilda (1100s); Mary I; Elizabeth I; Mary II; Anne.
Women often exercised power informally rather than as office-holders.
Ladies-in-waiting under Elizabeth.
Elizabeth Hardwick (Bess of Hardwick; c. 1527-1608); 4 husbands (including Sir William Cavendish, and George Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury); great wealth (annual income in 1560s has been calculated as about $20 million at modern values).
Women in business: Jacqueline Vautrollier: took over husband’s business as printer/ publisher on his death; later married an apprentice from Stratford - Richard Field.
Bess of Hardwick (Elizabeth Hardwick; Barlow; Cavendish; St Loe; Talbot) (at c. 65, 1592)
Built for Bess 1590-97: Hardwick Hall, More Glass than Wall.
Jacqueline Vautrollier and Richard Field in Partnership, 1588.
Richard Field printed Venus and Adonis (1593), The Rape of Lucrece (1594), and The Phoenix and the Turtle (1601).
Women took status from their families (by birth or marriage); gentlemen were expected to be highly deferential towards noble women.
Women were (in theory) subordinate to their husbands/ fathers; widows were freer.
Women held only limited property rights in common law; but equity law, enforced in the Court of Chancery, gave them greater rights.
Women seen as usually less well qualified to govern than men; some countries forbade female monarchs altogether (France; Salic Law).
In England, thinkers acknowledged that women could rule, and that there could be exceptionally able women who would be good rulers – Deborah (Old Testament); Elizabeth.
Elizabeth acknowledged her physical but not mental/ emotional inferiority to men: 1588: “I have the body but of a weak and feeble woman; but I have the heart of a King, and of a King of England too”.
Few writers challenged the idea that women are generally inferior to men in some respects; a pioneering feminist was Mary Astell (1666-1731).
Mary Astell’s Some Reflections upon Marriage, 1700.
Mary Astell was the daughter of a Newcastle coal merchant. She argued for the equality of women, and also for an intolerant episcopalian church, opposing the views of John Locke.
Women were generally regarded as more emotional and less rational than men.
Wives were seen as subordinateto their husbands; but husbands and wives were regarded as partners in running the family.
The husband was regarded as the senior partner in running the family; he was granted limited rights to discipline his wife and children, but was generally denied the power of life and death over them.
Most thinkers held that a key purpose of family life is the welfare of the children, and argued that allowing the father to kill his children would not promote that purpose.