Sara Margaret Butler deposited “Spousal Abuse in Fourteenth-century Yorkshire: What can we learn from the Coroners’ Rolls?” in the group Legal history on Humanities Commons 2 years, 8 months ago
Since the publication of Philippe Aries’ Centuries of Childhood in the early 1960’s, historians of the family have been intrigued by the prospect of a history of change in familial sentiment. 1 Aries’ study of attitudes about children from the Middle Ages to the eighteenth century, based primarily on art and material evidence, demonstrates powerfully to historians that we can no longer merely assume the existence of parental love: human emotion is not an historical constant.2 While Aries did not explicitly address marital affection, the implications of his study are not lost on historians interested principally in the study of marriage and marital relations. Today, almost forty years later, Aries’ research remains the touchstone for historians’ debates centred on the study of medieval families. In part, the inability of historians to reject altogether his findings reflects the nature of the study: a couple’S behaviour towards each other belongs to the inner workings of the home, a sphere of life from which few written records would ever have been created, let alone have survived.