Lawrence in context of social class which influenced
Lawrence Stone in 1979 claimed that during 1558-1667 change in the family structure (impacting women) was the most important social change in 1,000 years. Further historical research has now discredited this theory. The years 1558- 1667 are largely characterised by continuity rather than change and the lifestyle of women did not change markedly. Alan Macfarlane's research suggests that structures and roles had not changed since 1300. There was a social continuity through the whole pre-industrial era in England, where women had an inferior status to men. In 1617 William Whately in a wedding sermon pronounced, "The whole duty of a wife is referred to by two heads. Thefirst is to acknowledge her inferiority; the next was to carry herself as inferior." He was not being provocative, but simply stating common knowledge and practice. Throughout the period this difference between the two sexes was a fundamental principle upon which society was constructed. This is the main historical context in terms of analysing the role of women. However, there were occasions of major upheaval that saw disruptions and some changes, albeit not lasting ones. One can also view the issue in context of social class which influenced particular women's lives.
A predominant feature of England 1558-1667 saw social continuity and a patriarchal society from the middle ages, where women had a subordinate status to men and who encountered many restrictions. Women originated from Adam, a man. Therefore they were inferior to men. People of this time were very religious and believed that women were weaker physically, intellectually and morally. This view started when Eve persuaded Adam to eat the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. Women could not hold office in the protestant church, which was made stronger by removing nunneries.
Under common law, married women (feme covert) had no rights. Women moved from the "contr…