Blending the Family: Affection, Obligation and Dynasty in Early Modern English Stepfamilies

    Project Details


    The ‘blended family’ of full, half and step-siblings and parents is often assumed to be a distinctively modern phenomenon, born of divorce and relationship breakdown. But the high mortality rates made it relatively commonplace in earlier periods too. While early-modern family aspirations might be framed by idealised conceptions of patriarchal and dynastic authority and descent, groups at all levels of society wrestled with the practical and emotional realities of more complex circumstances. This project, analysing the correspondence of several sixteenth-century blended families, is the first to drill into the detail of how individuals with differing connections of power and affection defined themselves and their relations, and strove to balance individual and collective desires and aspirations for security and success. In a contemporary context of increasing prevalence of blended families, this original study will illuminate their long-term history, and centrality to the lived experience of all sections of society.
    Effective start/end date1/04/2331/03/25


    • British Academy: £6,516.85


    • history
    • early modern
    • history of family
    • family
    • childhood
    • parenting
    • social history
    • emotions
    • cultural history