Women, Marriage, Property and Law: Contextualizing The Witch of Edmonton
Changes in marital property and marriage negotiations, the economy, and personal relations in early modern England form the backdrop for key elements of The Witch of Edmonton. This essay draws on recent scholarship surrounding these changes to provide historical context for analyzing the play. It argues that the commercialization of economic relations and the emergence of trusts facilitated a shift away from customary arrangements (such as dower) towards more contractual ones (such as jointures). Meanwhile, increased reliance on credit and legal instruments, such as bonds, produced record levels of litigation, contributing to legalistic thinking and cynicism about legal agreements.
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