Shakespeare Era

Shakespeare Era

  • Submitted By: blaine
  • Date Submitted: 05/24/2008 2:29 PM
  • Category: English
  • Words: 1597
  • Page: 7
  • Views: 2212

The institution of marriage in the Renaissance Period was both secular and sacred. Secularly, it served as a union of two parties interested in acquiring property, money or political alliances. Marriage was also sacred in that it bound the love of a man and woman and sought procreation. William Shakespeare's work vividly displays the sacredness of love and marriage. Popular critics of his time considered Shakespeare the greatest love poet of all time. It was once said "he represented in an inimitable and masterly manner all the phenomena and manifestations of love." A working knowledge of both marriage and inheritance procedures in the Renaissance Period affords a better understanding of Shakespeare's works.

No property right was more significant than the right to succeed to landed estate. No right was more symbolic of the status of women, too. First, land descended to the eldest son to the exclusion of his siblings. But if there was no son, land went to the daughter. If there were more than one daughter then they were all equal heiresses. Common law gave a limited preference to males, as it gave daughters preference over collateral males, such as the nephew, or uncle, or male cousin. The younger son often received no inheritance after the bulk of it was given to the eldest son, so many times they sought higher education in order to provide for any family they might have in the future.

The next to be considered for the inheritance of a deceased landowner was the widow. The widow had a large common law right which became very well protected in the 16th century. She was entitled to a third of her husband's land for life because of her right of dower.  A husband could leave his wife less by specifying it at the time of his marriage.  But by the time of Edward I, the dower became an irreducible third and husbands could instead now specify more dower.  The legitimate heir, however, did reserve the right to object to this if he...

Similar Essays