Marriage, health and compatibility in early modern England    


  • Dr Leah Astbury

    University of Cambridge

Project summary

This project will produce a history of marriage and health in early modern England. Marriage is an institution governed by legal and religious regulations and social norms. In post-Reformation England, marriage was increasingly regulated and gendered spousal roles were part of religious practice, perpetuated by the growing popularity of conduct manuals. A central obligation of marriage was to care for one another in sickness. This has underpinned histories of domestic medicine which reveal that the early modern family would actively diagnose and cure ailments. 

The goals of this project are to assess how good health defined a successful marriage in early modern England and investigate how the social norms and expectations of marriage changed. I will also interrogate how marital compatibility was measured and how illness would affect spouses and the household as a whole. 

This project aims to uncover how cultural expectations shaped the way early modern people wrote about marriage.