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date: 19 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Literary scholars have long been aware of the near saturation of English Renaissance plays with marriage plots. Many Jacobean City Comedies, for example, use marriages to contrast traditional visions of society, formed around reciprocal obligations within a status hierarchy, with a more self-interested and contractual view of social relations. This chapter highlights links between marital contracts and financial contracts and considers changes in contractual thinking in the context of unprecedented litigation over conditional bonds; the displacement of dower by jointure in marital negotiations; and the increasingly contractual nature of private marital separations (in a society where divorce in the modern sense was unavailable).

Keywords: law, litigation, contract, marriage, Renaissance, Jacobean, separation, divorce, trusts, city comedy

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