history is fluid

Been doing research, delving into the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance period. Here are some interesting tidbits that have debunked some assumptions I held about life in those times. Only about 10% of European women apparantly died in childbirth. The median age at which people married for the first time was not in the teens, but most commonly in their 20s. I am suspecting that a great many of our assumptions about the 17th century and prior centuries, are fictions developed in the 18th and 19th centuries, most particularly the 19th. With the abrupt shift from rural to urban, from agricultural to industrial economy, and the religioius paradigm moving from deist toward scientific, academics, historians, economists, and the industrialists who influenced all the others were deeply vested in writing recent history in terms that tended to cast the social conventions and life experience of those previous centuries in a negative light and by contrast to make the new wonderful industrial age seem to be a step forward in a continuum of progress.

The idea that a large number of women died giving birth may have been promoted by the relatively new profession of medical doctors. An attempt to draw women away from the practice of being attended by midwifes and toward reliance on doctors certainly would have been enhanced by the belief that birthing was a kind of medical emergency rather than a natural event with some inherent risk. It would be interesting to find out if mortality among birthing women increased during the 19th century when women of all economic classes were increasingly relying on the medical profession.

History is fluid.

by pattyjo