Learn about the history of divorce and married women’s rights with Dr Tim Stretton

You’re invited to hear the stories of women from the 16th-18th centuries who found themselves in broken marriages, and challenged a legal system that viewed them as subordinate to men and denied the option of divorce.

Dr Tim Stretton and Dr K.J. Kesselring’s new book, Marriage, Separation & Divorce in England, 1500-1700 (Oxford University Press, 2022) explores why England did not permit divorce with remarriage in the era of the Reformation, and how people in failed marriages coped without the option of divorce. Their research finds that considering the English common-law concept of coverture — a broad term for married women’s legal status and property rights — offers insights into this dimension of the history of divorce.

The SMU Library invites you to our upcoming Faculty Author Series with Dr Stretton of the SMU Department of History. He will join us via Microsoft Teams on March 15 for a conversation about his new book Marriage, Separation, and Divorce in England, 1500-1700.

Register for the Faculty Author Series with Dr. Tim Stretton on March 15

While most historians have relied on church records to understand the history of divorce, Stretton and Kesselring discovered secular court cases and private litigation records that helped to fill in the gaps in the history of divorce. Their archival research revealed, surprisingly, that many couples made private agreements to separate and settle legal disputes, instead of turning to church courts.

Marriage, Separation, and Divorce in England, 1500-1700 tells the stories of women in unhappy marriages who challenged a legal system that perceived them as subordinate to men. Throughout his academic career, Dr Stretton has focused on researching women’s rights. In light of International Women’s Day on March 8th, we are excited to have Dr Stretton join us to talk about this dimension of the history of women’s rights and divorce.

We hope you will join us on March 15 at noon!

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