Adultery in early Stuart England [Elektronische Ressource] / Veronika Christine Pohlig

Adultery in early Stuart England [Elektronische Ressource] / Veronika Christine Pohlig

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Veronika Christine Pohlig___________________________Adultery in Early Stuar tEngland________________________________________Dissertation am Fachbereich Philosophie und Geisteswissenschaften der Freien Universität Berlin2009Erstgutachterin: Frau Prof. Dr. Sabine SchültingZweitgutachter: Herr Prof. Dr. Dr. Russell West-PavlovDatum der mündlichen Prüfung: 03.07.2009ACKNOWLEDGEMENTSFirstly, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Prof. Ann Hughes, whose enlightening undergraduate seminar at Keele University taught me the fundamentals of historic research, and first sparked my interest in matters of gender and deviance, thus laying the basis for this project. I wish to express my gratitude towards the Graduiertenkolleg Codierung von Gewalt im medialen Wandel for giving me the opportunity to work with a number of amazing individuals and exchange ideas across disciplinary boundaries, and also for providing the financial means to make travelling in order to do research for this project possible. Special thanks goes out to the helpful staff at Gloucestershire Archives. Above all, I am greatly indebted to Prof. Sabine Schülting for providing the warm intellectual home in which this project could thrive, and for blending munificent support with astute criticism. I am most grateful to have benefited from her supervision.

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Veronika Christine Pohlig
___________________________
Adultery in Early Stuar t
England
________________________________________
Dissertation am Fachbereich
Philosophie und Geisteswissenschaften
der Freien Universität Berlin
2009Erstgutachterin: Frau Prof. Dr. Sabine Schülting
Zweitgutachter: Herr Prof. Dr. Dr. Russell West-Pavlov
Datum der mündlichen Prüfung: 03.07.2009ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
Firstly, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Prof. Ann Hughes, whose enlightening
undergraduate seminar at Keele University taught me the fundamentals of historic research, and
first sparked my interest in matters of gender and deviance, thus laying the basis for this project.
I wish to express my gratitude towards the Graduiertenkolleg Codierung von Gewalt im medialen
Wandel for giving me the opportunity to work with a number of amazing individuals and exchange
ideas across disciplinary boundaries, and also for providing the financial means to make travelling
in order to do research for this project possible. Special thanks goes out to the helpful staff at
Gloucestershire Archives.
Above all, I am greatly indebted to Prof. Sabine Schülting for providing the warm intellectual home
in which this project could thrive, and for blending munificent support with astute criticism. I am
most grateful to have benefited from her supervision.
I wish to extend my most heartfelt thanks to Maggie Rouse, Sabine Lucia Müller, Anja Schwarz,
Judith Luig, and to Kai Wiegandt for their insightful comments on various parts of this dissertation
in various stages, but, more importantly, for unerring support and motivation. These were also given
most generously by my brother-in-law, Matthias Pohlig , who read the manuscript with a keen
historian's eye and provided invaluable feedback at a crucial stage of its genesis. Thanks to Peter,
Jon and Sebastian for brightening cloudy days.
This dissertation could not have been written without the encouragement and unflagging support of
my family. I doubt words can convey my gratitude, most especially to my husband Joachim Pohlig:
thank you for being there and for being you.
NOTE ON THE TEXT
Quotations from printed and manuscript sources retain the original spelling, grammar and
punctuation. However, in quoting from legal manuscripts, “th” has been substituted for “y” where
appropriate and abbreviations have been spelled out. When quoting original plays, the original
subdivision into acts and scenes has been kept. Where no individual scenes were marked, a
reference to the act in which they occur has been provided. Secondary texts are consistently cited in
author-date short format in order to make the footnotes clearer and shorter, i.e. more accessible.
However, it seemed expedient that more substantial information than short citation be given for
primary texts. Therefore, full bibliographical references in original spelling are provided for
primary texts at first mention in each of the seven chapters. In subsequent occurrences titles have
been shortened and their spelling has been modernised. Table of Contents
1. INTRODUCTION______________________________________________________1______
1.1. Why Study Early Stuart Adultery....................................................................? 1 ..............
1.2. How to Study Early Stuart Adulte...............................................................................ry 7 .
1.2.1. Court Rec.........................................................................................ords 8 .................
1.2.2. Prescriptive T...............................................................................................exts 16 ....
1.2.3. Fictional Texts and Performa..................................................................nces 18 ........
2. PAPROACHING E ARLY M ODERN M ARRIAGE AND ADULTERY____________________28__
2.1. Insecurities Surrounding Marriage28 ............
2.2. Performing Marriage – Witnessing Marria.........................................................ge 34 ......
2.3. Marriage and Adultery: Norm and Transgression....................................... 37 ..................
3. N EIGHBOURHOOD I: NEIGHBOURS AS WITNESSES ___________________________44___
3.1. Neighbourhood and Neighbourliness ................................................................45 ............
3.1.1. Thou Shalt (Not) Bear (False) Witnes............................................................s 53 ......
3.2. Gossip and Sla............................................................................................nder 64 ............
3.2.1. Witnessing Gone Wrong ..........................................................................67 ..............
3.2.2. Gossip Gone Wrong ...........................................................................................74 ....
3.2.3. Sexual Reputation and the Double Standa....................................rd 83 ....................
3.2.4. Gossip, Slander and Adultery: Conclusions .................................. 86 .......................
3.3. Mocking Practices ......................................................................................87 ..................
3.3.1. Mocking the Cuckold ...............................................................90 ...........................
3.3.2. Mocking the Adulteress ......................................................................109 .................
3.3.3. Mockery and Adultery: Conclusions .......................................... 116 .........................
4. N EIGHBOURHOOD II: NEIGHBOURS AS G UESTS AND FRIENDS__________________1_19_
4.1. Cornerstones and Boundaries of Neighbourliness: Charity, Hospitality, Friendship .120.
4.2. Male Friendship Facilitates Adultery....................................................126 ......................
4.3. Male Hatred Facilitates Adultery, Female Friendship Saves Marri.............age 142 ..........
4.4. Jealousy Suspends Neighbourliness and Destroys Marriage................ 150 ......................
4.5. Friendship as a Model for Marriage? ................................................... 154 ......................
4.6. Neighbourliness v. Marital Duties: Conclusions ............................................157 .............
5. HOUSEHOLD I: SPACES OF ADULTERY___________________________________159____
5.1. Household: Enclosure or Theatre......................................................? 160 ........................
5.2. The Centre Inside: The Marital B...............................................................ed 182 .............
5.3. Thresholds I: Doors....................................................................................186 .................
5.4. Thresholds II: ...................................................................................................Walls 199 ..
5.5. Outside: Public (Outdoor) Spaces ............................................................219 ..................
5.6. Adulterous Domesticity: Conclusions ..........................................................233 ...............
6. HOUSEHOLD II: DOMESTIC AFFAIRS____________________________________237____
6.1. Domestic Hierarchie...........................................................................s 240 ......................
6.1.1. Marriage: Equality v. Hierarc....................................................hy 242 ......................
6.1.2. Husbandly Authority: Duties Before Privil..............................eges 247 ....................
6.2. Wife-Tami.........................................................................................................ng 267 .......
6.3. Husband-Tami..................................................................................ng 281 .......................
6.4. Adulterous Business: Horn of Plenty or Horn of Cuckoldry? ..........................312 ........
6.5. Conjugal Hierarchies, Household Economy, and Adultery: Conclusions ......... 331 ..........7. STAGING ADULTERY IN E ARLY STUART E NGLAND: CONCLUSIONS_______________336_
7.1. Adultery and Domestic (Gender) Hierarchies ..............................................336 ...............
7.2. What Motivated Adultery? .....................................................................342 .....................
7.3. Damage Repair - ‘Unmaking’ Adult.................................................................ery? 343 ....
7.4. (Why) Was Adultery Funny?.............................................................................346 ..........
7.5. Neighbourhood – Theatre? ............................................................................347 ..............
7.6. Adultery and Neighbourhood Hierarchies .............................................................349 .....
BIBLIOGRAPHY______________________________________________________352______
APPENDIX_________________________________________________________382_______
1. Deutsche Zusammenfassung.......................................................................382 ...................
2. Erklärung .........................................................................................................387 ...............
3. Lebenslauf................................................................................................388 ......................
1. Introduction
1.1. Why Study Early Stuart Adultery?
This study received its first impulses roughly ten years ago. They derived from the two
vantages of social history and literary studies. Reading John Ford’s ’Tis Pity She’s a Whore I
was struck by the immediacy and pathos with which it had obviously been possible in the
1
early 1630s to stage transgressions like incest and adultery. Then, still an undergraduate in
English history, I researched what ‘respectable’ members of local communities perceived to
be the most threatening form of sexual deviance. To my surprise, I arrived at the conclusion
that it was not one of the more scandalous transgressions like ‘sodomy,’ or incest, to which
2recent criticism has given considerable attention, that caused particular social concerns in the
early modern age, but rather extra-marital sex. My interest in early modern adultery and its
significance in different medial and social contexts was piqued.
Adultery as a dramatic subject was remarkably common in Jacobean and Caroline
plays, which portrayed sexual behaviour with “a frankness unprecedented in English drama,
3
and rarely seen since.” Even tragedy increasingly turned towards sexual, and, notably,
domestic themes; and comedies contained ubiquitous references to matters such as adultery.
But spectacles of sexual transgression could not only be seen in theatres. Rhymes and
broadside ballads sung at street corners or markets, or hung up on walls of taverns and private
houses told of lusty bachelors and maidens, of unfaithful, slothful, or violent husbands and
wives. At the local church, sermons were read against fornication and adultery, and sinners
performed their penance for sexual offences wearing white sheets, sometimes placards
detailing their crime. Sometimes they were even enjoined to parade the streets or announce
4their misdeed in the market place on market days. As church courts had prime jurisdiction on
matters of marriage, a substantial part of their business consisted in dealing with such sexual
1
The play wasf irst performed between 1629 and 1633.
2
I amth inking here, for instance, of Bruce Boehrer’s (1992) Monarchy and Incest in Renaissance England ,
and Richard McCabe’s (1993)I ncest, Drama and Nature’s Law 1550-1700, which have since been followed
up by Maureen Quilligan’s (2005) Incest and Agency in Elizabeth’s England. I am also thinking of all the
work scholars of queer studies like Alan Bray, Jonathan Dollimore, Alan Sinfield, Valerie Traub, Mario
DiGangi, Eve Kosofski Sedgwick and others have invested in the exploration of early modern homoerotic
and homosocial relations.
3
Wiggins (1998: vii), for Jacobean tragedies.
4
Cf. Stone (1990: 232).
15offences. Local justices of the peace, under certain conditions, also had the authority to
6
punish fornication and adultery by fines, the stocks and whipping. But both ecclesiastical and
secular legal bodies functioned on the basis of community involvement, of local people
holding offices such as churchwarden or constable, and, generally, of neighbours keeping
their eyes and ears open to report transgressions. Matters such as adultery, thus, were not only
a subject of contemporary entertainment culture and more institutionalised didactic efforts. In
fact, they were never far from people’s minds.
In certain social factions religiously motivated concerns over public morals grew. In
1650, the Rump Parliament passed an act which imposed death penalty on adultery and incest
7
and repeated fornication. Keith Thomas has called this “an attempt, unique in English history,
8to put the full machinery of the state behind the enforcement of sexual morality.” However,
this is not totally correct. Repeated attempts to introduce secular, judiciary punishment of
incest and adultery had been made been made before, under Elizabeth, James as well as
9Charles. They often coincided with endeavours to extend and sharpen secular jurisdiction
10over matters of marriage. What makes the 1650 act special is that it was the first adultery bill
11
which actually passed parliament, albeit only after prolonged debates and modifications.
When, after six years, it was finally passed, very carefully formulated and furnished with
amendments, it proved to be virtually unimposable, and efforts to revise it were made only six
12
years later. Thus, the ‘Adultery Act’ of 1650 is a conglomerate of long-standing moral
concerns about sexual transgressions, sustained endeavours to regulate conjugal matters on a
13secular plain, and a contemporaneous political agenda of socio-moral reform. To conclude,
even before the explosion of sexual themes in libertine Restoration culture, the occupation
with questions of sexual morality, marriage and gender order, on a whole number of cultural
levels, gathered momentum. Its relevance, however, still remains to be properly assessed.
5
Cf. Outhwaite (2006: 58f.).
6 Cf. Stone (1990: 232).
7
England and Wales, An Act for Suppressing the Detestable Sins of Incest, Adultery and Fornication (London,
1650).
8
Thomas (1978: 257).
9
Thomas ( 281) himself acknowledges this towards the end of his article. The House of Lords read bills
for the Punishment of Adultery and Incest in 1576 and 1604. The House of Commons debated such an act in
1626, 1628 and 1629, annually after 1644 (there were no parliamentary sessions between 1629 and 1640).
10
The particulars of possible divorce, for instance, were repeatedly discussed. Also, in 1629, attempts had been
made to facilitate marriage by lifting temporal restrictions on legally binding weddings, i.e., to allow
weddings on any day of the year. See Miscellaneous,H ouse of Commons Journal, Volume 1 (London, 1802),
24 January 1629.
11
Somede legates even suggested that the act should only be enforced for three years. See Miscellaneous ,
House of Commons Journal, Volume 6 (London, 1802), 10 May 1650 .
12
SeeH ouse of Commons Journal, Volume 7 (London, 1802), 4 October 1656 .
13
Cf. also Thomas (1978: 281).
2Despite its apparent contemporary importance, the subject has not yet been cohesively
analysed, although more and less extensive comments on adultery pervade analyses of (early
modern) English social and cultural history of the last thirty years, which have taken immense
interest in issues of family life, marriage, sexual history, and different forms of deviance and
crime. Both methodologically and thematically, this study benefits greatly from these
examinations of gender relations, and household order as well as (local) social structures
which have been undertaken in social history, as well as cultural studies and literary studies in
the last decades. But here, especially in socio-historical and cultural studies, adultery is
mostly treated as one transgression among others, or as a footnote to other, overarching
14
concerns, for instance of social and gender order, violence and sexual transgressions. I
propose to reverse this focus and explore questions of gender and social order from the
vantage of adultery.
Literary studies have largely focused on female adultery in tragedy. There is one
monograph on adultery as a motif in Elizabethan, Jacobean and Caroline tragedy, by Ilse
Born-Lechleitner (1995), which may justly call itself the first study of adultery in Elizabethan
15
and Caroline drama. A doctoral thesis by Susan Neal Mayberry on The Adulterous Wife i n
Renaissance Drama (1982), which examines the adulteress as a character in tragedies,
tragicomedies and history plays, remains unpublished. Born-Leichleitner’s book, although
published in 1995, is based on a doctoral thesis which, on closer inspection, reads as if it (or
research for it) had been completed much earlier without being revised or updated for
publication. Apart from a short sketch of the legal and social background of adultery, which is
based mostly on rather outdated secondary sources, Born-Lechleitner focuses entirely on
secondary literature from the field of literary studies, disregarding recent methodological
impulses, for example from gender studies or new historicism. Without critical reflection, she
16 17speaks of authorial intentions and the ‘message’ of plays, and simply adopts interpretative
clues and evaluations of research of the 1950s and 1960s. Her study excludes comedies,
18
arguing that the instances of adultery in comedy were too numerous to examine. In addition
to this monograph, a number of shorter essays have been dedicated to the problem of
cuckoldry in Elizabethan and early Stuart plays, both tragedies and comedies, most notably by
14
Laura Gowing’s (1996) monograph on early modern normative feminine gender constructions contains a
chapter which analyses adultery in connection with domestic violence. Correspondingly, one chapter of
Martin Ingram’s (1987) monograph on Church Courts, Sex and Marriage , 1570-1640 treats adultery along
with incest and fornication.
15
Born-Lechleitner (1995: viii).
16
E.g., Born-Lechleitner (1995: 35).
17
E.g., Born-Lechleitner ( iii).
18
Born-Lechleitner (1995: iii).
3Gary Kuchar, Katharine Eisaman Maus, Bruce Boehrer, Douglas Bruster, Jennifer Panek, and,
from the perspective of queer studies, with a focus on Restoration comedy, Eve Kosofsky
Sedgwick. In these studies, too, female adultery and its pendant cuckoldry have been the
centre of critical attention.
From a critical vantage informed by the precepts of new historicism and cultural
studies, David Turner has recently authored a comprehensive analysis of adultery in the
Restoration period which examines how different genres (e.g., didactic and literary texts,
19journals, news reports, court records) represent or construct adultery. He suggests that, in the
late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, conceptions of adultery changed. Whereas
before adultery had been seen as a transgression against the social order, it now became a
private matter which carried more sexual connotations. David Turner’s study has two major
drawbacks which this present analysis seeks to avoid and rectify. Turner focuses solely on
‘representations of adultery’ on the textual level, on written language which he conceives as
abstract, when much of what adultery meant, it could be argued, was really defined by
individuals in local communities, in interactions, for instance through gossip, mocking and
20
shaming practices . Secondly, although Turner recognises that adultery is constituted by “a
21
complex and interacting set of codes and meanings,” he chooses to disregard just these
interactions, analysing different genres separately. At the beginning of my investigations, I,
too, presupposed that adultery should have been conceived differently in different genres. But
what I found were striking similarities which suggested that overarching continuities had to be
foregrounded. The picture of adultery which has presented itself to me in my readings has
convinced me that these interactions of meaning must be highlighted above genre divisions.
At least with regard to the specificities of early modern, or more precisely, early Stuart
adultery I here share Seth Denbo’s conviction that “[c]ultural history attains its explanatory
authority when texts and interrelated cultural discourses are allowed to interact with each
22
other.” Where Turner hopes that the study of language will serve to tie together disparate
23
sources and allow different genres to interact across chapters, I will allow different texts a nd
genres to interact within each chapter, just as my thematic concern will trace adultery in the
(traces of) interactions of local people.
In conclusion, my aims are to explore the cultural situation in the fifty years before the
19
Turner, D. (2002).
20
Cf. also Elena Levy-Navarro’s (2006: 45) review of Turner, D. (2002).
21
Turner, D. (2002: 19).
22
Denbo (2003: unpag.).
23
Turner (2003: unpag.).
4‘Adultery Act.’ I will lift the subject of early Stuart adultery from the sidelines of social,
cultural and literary studies to make it the focal point of my investigation. On the one hand, I
will merge the existing observations on the subject, and, often setting new focal points,
integrate them into my larger narrative of (one possible version of) a social and domestic
landscape of the early Stuart English neighbourhood. On the other hand, I offer original
readings of a variety of different documents and texts. My study will explore the social
dimensions by which adultery, according to David Turner, was characterised in pre-
Restoration times. I propose that this social significance is best approached through the
element of the neighbourhood, through the involvement of neighbours in individual cases of
adultery. I ask not only what adultery could mean for ‘normal people’ of lower and middling
social status, but also how adultery could mean, i.e. how the meaning of adultery could be
generated in interaction, and to what other meanings it was connected. I endeavour to shift my
focus from the immediate sexual act to the social and spatial conditioning of adultery, and its
relevance for social and domestic affairs. Consequently, I have chosen texts which I think
provide insights into this domestic and neighbourhood environment, and which, as shall be
shortly outlined, are interrelated through a common focus on performance; from court
records, prescriptive literature to broadside ballads and comedies.
As most studies so far have focussed on female adultery in literature, I wish to broaden
common understanding of the role of the adulteress by evaluating her from a non-literary,
non-feminist viewpoint. Accordingly, the relevance of male adultery must be assessed and
both male and female adultery must be considered in relation to each other. The fruits of
24
recent efforts in socio-historical masculinity studies, in particular, guide my reading.
Moreover, I will examine the role of the male and female rival. The choice of my texts also
points to another question: if such a significant affair, why, and in what forms, could adultery
be funny and entertaining? I think we need more differentiated answers here than are
commonly provided.
When I started working on this project I thought of early modern adultery as an
individual sexual transgression which was marked by a specific discourse of sin and which
had a socially disruptive potential. But what I found was decidedly more of a social than
sexual nature, and sin was far less prominent than expected. Of course, to a certain extent, this
is due to the sources I chose. References to the spiritual dimension of sin are much more
tangible in the pathos of tragic representations of adultery, for instance. However, moral-
religious conduct books and especially church court records which one might expect to be
24
Foyster (1999) and Shepard (2003) are particularly important here.
5