Meanings of Manhood in Early Modern England
This path-breaking study explores the diverse and varied meanings of manhood in early modern England and their complex, and often contested, relationship with patriarchal principles. Using social, political and medical commentary, alongside evidence of social practice derived from court records, Dr Shepard argues that patriarchal ideology contained numerous contradictions, and that, while males were its primary beneficiaries, it was undermined and opposed by men as well as women. Patriarchal concepts of manhood existed in tension both with anti-patriarchal forms of resistance and with alternative codes of manhood which were sometimes primarily defined independently of patriarchal imperatives. As a result the differences within each sex, as well as between them, were intrinsic to the practice of patriarchy and the social distribution of its dividends in early modern England.