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Birth, Marriage, and Death
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Table of Contents

BIRTH
1: Childbed Mysteries: God's Babies: The Spiritual Construction of Childbirth; Comforts for Childbearing Women; Suffering and Death; The Archers: A Family History
2: The Management of Childbirth: Books for the Birth of Mankind; Signs of Conception; Care of the Expectant Mother; Abortion; Preparations for the Birth Room
3: Childbed Attendants: Reputable Midwives; Midwives and Ministers; Midwives in Action; Bastard Births
4: Mother and Child: The Woman in the Straw; Childbed Gossips; The Blessings of the Breast; The Wetnurse and the Martyr
BAPTISM
5: Baptism as Sacrament and Drama: Questions of Contention; Timing, Refusal and Neglect; Liturgy; Theology; Lost Souls; Baptism by Women
6: Crosses in Baptism: The Sign of the Cross; Elements and Substances; Dipping and Sprinkling; Fonts and Basins
7: The People with the Children: Parents and Godparents; Naming the Child; Chrisom Cloths and Christening Sheets; Christening Cheer
8: Changes and Challenges: Baptism in Times of Distraction, 1642-1660; Baptism after the Restoration; The Rise of Private Baptism
CHURCHING
9: Purification, Thanksgiving, and the Churching of Women: Viewpoints; Gossippings; Green Women; Blessing and Cleansing; Complaints and Objections; Rates and Fees; Cases and Collisions; Decent Veils; "Julia's Churching"; Churching continued, 1645-1700; Multiple Meanings
COURTSHIP
10: Courtship and the Making of Marriage: Courtship Narratives; Making a Match; Choice and Consent; Mutual Love and Good Liking; Gifts and Tokens
11: Espousals, Betrothals and Contracts: Cementing an Engagement; Carnal Knowledge
MARRIAGE
12: Holy Matrimony: Transformations; Problems and Questions; God's Weddings
13: Prohibitions and Impediments: Forbidden Seasons; Banns and Licences; Impediments; Prohibited Degrees; Religious Restrictions
14: Clandestine and Irregular Marriages: Canonical Hours; Clandestine Weddings; "Living together as man and wife"; After the Restoration
15: Nuptial Vows: The Solemnization of Matrimony; Giving the Bride; The Ring in Marriage; The Accustomed Duty
16: Wedding Celebrations: Festive Excess; Hymen's Revels; Wedding Gear; Bridal Flowers; Giving and Bidding; Bridal Processions; Acts of Piety and Mirth; Possets and Stockings
DEATH
17: Death Comes for All: Body and Soul; Ars Moriendi; Grief
18: Ritual and Reformation: The Order for Burial of the Dead; Persistent Tradition; Puritan Criticism; Ceremonial Discipline; The War on Pomp; Revolution and Restoration
19: Funerals and Burials: For Whom the Bell Tolls; Winding and Watching; Furnishings and Equipment; Funeral Processions; Mourning Black; Doles and Dinners; The Triumph of Pomp
20: The Geography of Interment: Fees and Dues; Places of Honour; The Dormitory of Christians; Markers and Memorials
Conclusion: Centres and Peripheries; Public and Private; Social and Spiritual; Stories within Stories; Men and women; Problems and changes; Reformation, Revolution and Restoration
Index

Promotional Information

Winner of the John Ben Snow Prize of the North American Conference on British Studies, for best book on British history published in 1997

About the Author

David Cressy is Professor of History at California State University, Long Beach.

Reviews

`the volume will remain the essential beginning point for all future study of life-cycle rituals. It is useful for undergraduates and fundamental for all serious students and scholars.'
Michael J. Galgano, Religious Studies Review, Vol 27, No 2, April 2001
`In this richly detailed and beautifully written study, Cressy examines the life-cycle religious rituals against the backdrop of the broader social and cultural tensions transforming England in early modern times ... The work soars in its thorough explanation of each ritual, unique cases, and changing practice over time.'
Michael J. Galgano, Religious Studies Review, Vol 27, No 2, April 2001
`an engaging and scholarly study ... although this book claims to be social history (of which it is a fine example), it is so much more besides. The political, religious, cultural, and intellectual historian will be able to take a great deal away from this book, almost as much as his social colleague.'
Andrew Chibi, Reformation.
`By taking as his parameters the late-Tudorbethan Reformation period and the aftermath of the glorious revolution, Cressy has provided the context that a lot of social history lacks. And what action-packed context it is!'
Andrew Chibi, Reformation.
`A good book? Certainly. An edifying read? Without doubt. To be recommended? Highly and enthusiastically.'
Andrew Chibi, Reformation.
`the great service that Cressy has done us by collecting this material and mapping the ritual of early modern England in such fascinating detail.'
John Spurr, Besprechungen.
`Well versed in and eloquent about the theological implications of rituals and the limitations of social theory, Cressy allows neither to distract him from his primary task of describing these rituals in all of their rich diversity. His book is a treasure trove of information about early modern practices ... He is resourceful in finding ways to take his readers into private spaces like the birth room; he is innovative in his chapter on churching ... he is
lucid and authoritative on subjects such as 'clandestine marriage' or puritan objections to Prayer Book ritual. Cressy will recount an incident - whether a rowdy funeral or a secret marriage - and then
offer several possible interpretations without imposing a single definitive view.'
John Spurr, Besprechungen.
`Professor Cressy has woven his marvellous tapestry of the experience of birth, marriage and death in Tudor and Stuart England.'
John Spurr, Besprechungen.
`This is a big book on a huge subject ... and all for £25.'
Christopher Haigh and Alison Wall, Journal of Ecclesiastical History, Vol.50, No.3.
`There is a fascination, in the detail - rich, raw, well-marshalled, sometimes funny, often poignant.'
Christopher Haigh and Alison Wall, Journal of Ecclesiastical History, Vol.50, No.3.
`Ritual will run and run. But David Cressy has brought us a long way already, and written a valuable book.'
Christopher Haigh and Alison Wall, Journal of Ecclesiastical History, Vol.50, No.3.
`an extremely valuable work, erudite and enthralling.'
Skiles Howard, Shakespeare Quarterly. Vol.51.No.2.
`His portrayal of life-cycle customs is cinematic in scope and style, a vista of elite protocols, secular traditions, and the contraversies surrounding them illuminated with a profusion of closely focused and vivid anecdotes from everyday life.'
Skiles Howard, Shakespeare Quarterly. Vol.51.No.2.
`an invaluable research companion to Shakespeare studies.'
Skiles Howard, Shakespeare Quarterly. Vol.51.No.2.
`an encyclopedic yet captivating compendium of life-cycle customs ... and their social, cultural, and religious history.'
Skiles Howard, Shakespeare Quarterly. Vol.51.No.2.
`An impressive study.'
Skiles Howard, Shakespeare Quarterly. Vol.51.No.2.
`huge but highly readable volume ... Cressy's interpretations are highly judicious ... this book is a masterly survey and a vast fund of fascinating insight into the conventions governing the world we have lost.'
Roy Porter, Medical History
`This is a most readable and highly detailed examination of family life in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Taking the life-cycle as its central theme it is essential reading for anyone studying the patterns and rituals of family life in the pre-industrial age. Combining a fascinating exploration of available source materials it is clearly destined to become a classic work on the subject.'
Local Population Studies
`imaginative, perceptive, integrated, and beautifully produced ... Written with clarity, elegance and vivacity, it can stand confidently alongside Keith Thomas's equally innovative Religion and the Decline of Magic (1971).'
I. Roots, Cromwelliana 1998
`he has given us a blockbuster, which immediately becomes the staple work upon its subject ... a massive compendium of information .,.. It is a book with important ideas but not reliant on them, for its material is so extensive and often so novel in itself that it opens a door on a lost world of experience, dispelling popular myths and removing areas of scholarly ignorance.'
Times Literary Supplement
`detailed and absorbing book ... Cressy finds the same intensity and messy variety in relationships that we know now. In a masterly summary of the ways in which these past people are the same as us and separated from us, he writes that grief 'was both a natural and a cultural phenomenon. It was something people felt, but also something they performed'.'
Diarmid MacCulloch, The Observer
`detailed and absorbing book'
Diarmaid MacCulloch, The Observer Review
`This is an important book that all English social historians will need to digest. Luckily, given its length, it is digestible. It is packed with fascinating anecdotes, and it is well written ... the results are fascinating and tantilizing ... a book to be read for pleasure and mined for evidence. Anyone working on early modern social history will have to read it and ask him- or herself whether Cressy's positivism had defeated the theorists. In Cressy's
world, sweeping generalizations are less important than real life as he understands it.'
Norman Jones, Journal of Modern History, Vol 71, no 3, September 1999
`David Cressy's new book should be essential reading for anyone who wants to understand how the religious rituals associated with birth, marriage and death have managed to survive in the secular climate of late 20th-century Britain, when the habit of regular churchgoing has largely disappeared. Cressy has taken pains to make his book accessible to the common reader. Cressy has a sharp eye for detail, but he also manages to assemble these details into a
strong and coherent argument.'
Arnold Hunt, Church Times
`a fascinating read in its own right and an invaluable reference aid'
Derek Wilson, History Today
`should be essential reading for anyone who wants to understand how the religious rituals associated with birth, marriage and death have managed to survive in the secular climate of late 20th-century Britain, when the habit of regular churchgoing has largely disappeared. Cressy has a sharp eye for detail, but he also manages to assemble these details into a strong and coherent argument.'
Arnold Hunt, Church Times
`Cressy ... gives us in Birth, Marriage and Death another, even more thoroughly researched work, based upon an astounding number of sources, rich in detail but highly readable.'
Bibliotheque d'Humanisme et Renaissance
`patchy materials have been tackled by Cressy with impressive care and sensitivity, and without sentimentality. The arguments are put forward gently ... There is the fascination, in the detail - rich, raw, well-marshalled, sometimes funny, often poignant ... a valuable book.'
Christopher Haigh and Alison Wall, Journal of Ecclesiastical History, Vol 50, No 3, July 99

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