Increased literacy, combined with The Restoration led the British people to an increasingly public life. There were also clear class distinctions that were prevalent in the realms of both home life, outward social life, and education. New developments in recreation, commercialization, and industrialization also led to a transformation in both entertainment and occupations available.
Additionally, new fashion trends came onto the scene. This explores the social structure of Britain, its impact on life, both private and public, as well as the new developments that changed the way the people spent their leisure time. There was a clear gap between the wealthy and the poor, which made itself visible in almost all aspects of life, but there were certain areas where class was unimportant. The family lives of people were separated by two distinctions: roles for men versus roles for women, and social class. In general, men were the breadwinners, providing income for the family, whereas the mothers were in charge of the household.
This role grew more prominent with more wealth, as with that came more estate to manage. Marriage was also very closely tied to social class; women were seldom married into lower social rungs. Role of Women and Men. Marriage Due to the the importance of land, daughters posed a large problem for landowning families. Other than widows, not many women owned land, and many daughters certainly did not receive any—so they did not carry an estate with them upon marriage. Also, it was important for families to maintain social status, which meant a daughter was never married to someone of lower standing.
Mothers and fathers spent much time searching for the the best possible spouse for their child, in order to benefit the family.
As a result, families typically placed a dowry on their daughter, which consisted of a large sum of money. Then came along another problem: The idea of individualism, reason, and romantic sensibility began growing rapidly in the early part of the century leading to daughters wanting to choose their own husbands.
For poor families, not nearly as much was at stake when marrying, thus relieving pressure. It was impossible to transfer poverty to one another or to lose any kind of societal status as a result of a marriage, so men and women were free to choose who they wanted.
Family Life After Marriage Many issues and concerns were brought up during the process of arranged marriages. The concept of a strictly male-controlled, nuclear family began spreading once puritanical influence intensified in the 17th century.
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Many of the wealthy ignored their children because their vast fortunes allowed them to. In poorer families, it was unpredictable what the structure and attitude was like inside the household; it could be dangerous, warming, or all around indifferent.
Another problem for impoverished families, as ly mentioned, was an increased infant mortality rate.
Yet, this was mostly offset by large birthing rates, which often compensated for this facet. For the most part, these households, ranging from rich to poor, owned animals of some sort.
The upper class had a collection of animals ranging from dogs to horses with the extraneous instance of some having pet monkeys. The middle class mostly had cats and birds along with dogs who could act as protection for the household. The poorer families mostly had animals who could provide food for the families, such as cows, pigs, and geese.
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Divorce and Separation Divorce was carried out through Parliament and was a lengthy and extremely expensive process reserved mainly for the bourgeoisie. Between andonly 13 cases of divorce were reported. These separations could be made in private agreement or in public, ecclesiastical court. Many lived in one or two room houses that were often crowded with large families, as well as lodgers that shared their living space.
Women typically gave birth to eight to ten children; however, due to high mortality rates, only raised five or six children. The children of average or poor families began working very early on in life, sometimes even as early as age seven. They worked mostly on farms as shepherds, cowherds, or apprentices and often left home to do so.
Daughters of these families remained home, often aiding the matriarch of the household until they found a husband and started a family of their own. The oldest son of each family would stay as home as well, in order to inherit the farm. The concept of inheritance was often a source of tension for many families.
The average and poor families of the late 17th century England did not yet have the luxury of piped water, which created a rarity in bathing. Because of the unhygienic lifestyle, lice and vermin were very common with these families. Upper Class Wealthy families of the late 17th century England enjoyed many more luxuries than the average and poor families. As opposed to the rural properties of the average families, the wealthy lived in beautiful suburbs or villages.
Houses were beginning to be deed to display and boast the wealth of the families that lived in them. For the first time, the wealthy were enjoying the luxury of piped water into their homes. These homes contained families with an average of ten or more people.
The women of these households were responsible for keeping everything running smoothly. They were in charge of the servants and ran the estate if the husband was not around. Similarities Between Families in Both Classes Despite the difference in economic status, there were many similarities between wealthy and average or poor families. In both families marriages were more of a business deal than a relationship. Love was not a factor in a marriage in 17th century England. A woman typically married in her early twenties. Arranged marriages occurred primarily for resources such as money and land.
It was expected that a man would beat his wife and not seen as an issue. Children did not have close relationships with their parents or siblings either.
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High infant mortality rate was a common issue and the reason why many women had a high of childbirths but a lower of children. Labor In agricultural families, men, for the most part, took care of the majority of the household income. Households were first and foremost a patriarch; they controlled every aspect of the house. Women were to act as subordinates. Men did the most tiring labor in the field such as clearing, plowing, sowing seed, harvesting, and threshing.
This was also with the help of their sons and hired laborers. Women were helped by their daughters or servants in everything from knitting; to cleaning; to tending to the animals; to teaching the children. In shopkeeping families, the men and women both worked in the shop. In artisanal families, the wife was still responsible for housecleaning but she sometimes oversaw the workers. As with the more personal family life, life in the public spectrum was often defined by social class.
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The more wealthy groups were able to send their children to private school, something that most people still could not afford to do at this time. This made the education gap ificant during the period, and made it difficult for the poorer people of Britain to move up the social ladder. Some things permeated the entire society without regard to class, however; both the theater and, later, the increasing role of organized sports were both things that were available and enjoyed by everybody. This hierarchy determined everything about society and etched their fate eternally in stone.
Among the differences in these classes were the attitudes that each one exhibited. No matter the pigeonholes that were set on those of poorer status, there was still a pecking order and sense of loyalty to social superiors. The one way to move up in this time period was to own land. Landowners held power and influence.
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This made it difficult to move up the social ranks, seeing as how buying land was considered a luxury even in those days. Social Class Structure Wealthy Landowners This was the most powerful group, which made up the smallest amount of the population. It included the most important of the aristocracy and squires. Gentry This included those who received a high standard of upbringing but were not as important as the upper echelon of wealth.
This included: gentlemen, merchants, wealthy tradesmen, and well-off manufacturers.
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Yeoman Yeoman were those who owned and worked their own land. The upper middle class included certain professionals and merchants. The lower middle class included artisans, shopkeepers, and tradesmen. Black Britons Though they made up a small portion of the population, black slaves existed and were a hot issue during the early half of the century.
Their labor made commodities available and cheap, but the idea of slavery as wrong was extremely prevalent. No matter the protest, though, the labor and trade continued until its abolition in Though this class structure was almost always set from birth and heavily protected by those were already inducted into high social standing, it was not impossible for those of lower status to break through.
Everyone was mainly subject to the same body of law as everyone else and certain privileges for ruling classes only went so far. Property was the key to wealth and power, and property could be purchased. So, any man could amass a fortune and land, and begin to climb the social ladder; and any family could lose all of its estate and see their social standing vanish.
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London was the biggest and most commercialized and industrialized city in England at the time. It was home to roughly half a million citizens at the beginning of the century and would only grow from there.