By Martin Ingram
Adultery, fornication, breach of marriage agreement, sexual slander - those, in addition to non secular offences of varied varieties, have been common of the circumstances handled via the ecclesiastical courts in Elizabethan and early Stuart England. What used to be it wish to dwell in a society within which own morality was once regulated via legislations during this style? How far-reaching was once such surveillance in real perform? How did usual humans view the courts - as worthwhile associations upholding authorised criteria, or as an alien approach purveying undesirable values? How powerful have been the church courts in influencing attitudes and behavior? earlier checks of ecclesiastical justice, colored by means of modern puritan and customary legislations criticisms, have normally been detrimental. This in-depth, richly documented research of the intercourse and marriage enterprise handled less than church legislation, in response to the files of the courts in Wiltshire, Cambridgeshire, Leicestershire and West Sussex within the interval 1570-1640, provides a extra balanced and extra optimistic view.
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Extra resources for Church Courts, Sex and Marriage in England, 1570-1640 (Past and Present Publications)
Sometimes the latter was Swinburne, A treatise ofspousals or matrimonial contracts (1686); Francis Clarke, Praxis in curiis ecclesiasticis (Dublin, 1666). On Swinburne, see J. Duncan M. Derrett, Henry Swinburne ( 71551-1624): civil lawyer of York, Borthwick papers, 44 (York, 1973).
The figures relating to such litigation suggest to the modern eye that while conflict and disagreement over a variety of issues were common they were to an impressive extent contained within the rule of law; 15 and the increasing numbers of lawsuits can to a large extent be explained in terms of an expanding population, an increasingly active land market, the growing volume and complexity of economic transactions (including the greater use of bills, bonds and other credit instruments), and numerous other social and economic factors.
1 1 1 - 1 5 ; Louis A . Knafla, ' " S i n o f all sorts swarmeth ": criminal litigation in an English county in the early seventeenth century', in E. W . Ives and A . H. ), Law, litigants and the legal profession (1983), pp. 50-67. Collinson, Elizabethan puritan movement, pp. 180-3. See below, Chapters 6, 11. The structure of ecclesiastical justice 41 constituted another disturbing factor, but the impression is that at least by about 1600 such wrangles were less common and less damaging than they had been in earlier centuries.