Uncertain Unions

Uncertain Unions : Marriage in England, 1660-1753

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In the first part of this book, Lawrence Stone provides a series of case-studies which paint a vivid picture of how individuals coped with the manifold uncertainties of the law of marriage before the Marriage Act of 1753. There are stories of unwise courtship, prenuptial pregnancies, forced marriages, and bigamy, told in intimate, often ribald detail. The case-studies in the second part reveal how the break-up and dissolution of marriages was contrived before the first Divorce Act in 1857. Offering details of dramatic courtroom confrontations, secret negotiations, blackmail, and bribery, they provide sobering evidence of the huge gap between the enacted law and actual practice in early modern England.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 644 pages
  • 129.54 x 195.58 x 38.1mm | 453.59g
  • Oxford University Press
  • Oxford Paperbacks
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0192853082
  • 9780192853080

About Lawrence Stone

About the Author Lawrence Stone is the author of many highly acclaimed books, including Road to Divorce, The Crisis of the Aristocracy, The Family, Sex and Marriage in England, and The Open Society.show more

Review quote

"The twenty-five stories of Uncertain Unions often read like graphic versions of Defoe or Richardson. They are organized into three sections, as illustrations of three themes: courtship and contract, forced marriage, and clandestine marriage....Few other historians have so successfully combined analytical and narrative approaches and few works of hsitory have offered such an intimate and detailed view of the social customs of early modern England."--Commonweal"Professor Stone's inimitable skill as a story-teller brings the formal record to life, and puts human flesh on the bare bones of the law of marriage."--The Sunday Telegraph"Here are topless frolics, lies and eavesdropping, pregnancies and false promises, angry parents, pretty daughters, feeble sons, and much marrying in haste and repenting at leisure....There's not a dull story in the book. Each one illustrates a point that interests Stone as a historian, but his eye for the ridiculous or touching detail ensure that they can be read as the purest of entertainment."--Independent"Lawrence Stone never tackles small topics, nor is he humbled by the enormities of his undertakings....These volumes will be much read and will give their readers insights into some of the more colorful episodes in the social and sexual lives of eighteenth-century England's rich and famous....Professional historians are always bemoaning the wide gap between the limited readership of our rather inaccessible and dry monographs and a potential readership whose lives would be enriched if they only could be persuaded to read history, Lawrence Stone has done valuable work in narrowing the gap."--Journal of the History of Sexualityshow more

Rating details

7 ratings
3.71 out of 5 stars
5 29% (2)
4 29% (2)
3 29% (2)
2 14% (1)
1 0% (0)
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