Household Mistresses

Eleanor Hubbard

in City Women

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780199609345
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191739088 | DOI:
Household Mistresses

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  • Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)


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This chapter examines the dual roles of early modern London wives as subject wives and household mistresses, paying particular attention to ways in which the relationship between husband and wife was molded by the need to uphold the wife's authority over children and servants. It discusses how these subordinates reacted when husband and wife came into conflict. The chapter stresses wives' responsibility for preserving household resources, and the expectation that they would exert a moderating influence on their husbands' spending, a duty that sat uneasily with wifely obedience, since the line between praiseworthy advice and shrewish nagging was thin. It examines how, in marital separation cases, women and their allies were able to draw on the concept of household order to attack their spendthrift and abusive husbands.

Keywords: household; wives; mistresses; mothers; marriage; patriarchy; conjugal love; marital separation; domestic violence; coverture; shrewishness

Chapter.  19318 words. 

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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