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General Views on Gender

In order to understand gender and etiquette, we need to examine the general views on gender differences in the 17th century. Not only did men and women inhabit different bodies, but they were marked with specific characteristics. Men, as the stronger sex, were thought to be intelligent, courageous, and determined. Women, on the other hand, were more governed by their emotions, and their virtues were expected to be chastity, modesty, compassion, and piety. Men were thought to be more aggressive; women more passive.

 

Expectations of male and female conduct derived from these perceived virtues and weaknesses. In marriage, men were expected to rule over their wives, and all property (except in some cases property acquired by the woman before marriage) belonged to the husband. Men were the primary wage earners, while women were expected to be primarily responsible for housework and childcare, though both sexes participated in all these activities. Women's public roles were generally confined to the exercise of their moral and domestic virtues through participation in religion and charity.

 

Views that do not belong to the Restoration Period

 

It can be at times very difficult to imagine what it is like to live in 17th century England. A classic mistake for a person of the 21st century to make is to take the very formal and strict Victorian Era as the standard for etiquette, courtship and scandal for anything before the 20th century. This could not be further from the truth. For instance the images displayed on the cod pieces of gentlemen in the Medieval and Tudor period would bring a blush on the cheeks of many a 21st century American for being so suggestive about how well endowed its owners were, including a display of a full erection. Not something you'd wear in polite company today! Nor was showing a nipple cause for scandal. While such displays were already toned down considerably under Puritan influence (which considered even dancing to be scandalous), the Restoration period, especially at court, was rather libertine compared to the Victorian Era. They were not afflicted with either prudishness or the strictly regimented order of society. The concept of class was only now developing as were more and more rules for polite company. It was a good 75 years before such was formalized in law and books on good manners.

 

General Etiquette for Women From the Period

 

  • Blushing was considered very feminine and the essence of innocence.
  • Ladies are urged to be modest and demure.
  • Wit and humor are greatly priced, but yet a lady needs to remain delicate.
  • Women should not show their learning lest the gentleman is brought to shame for knowing less. They are advised to listen to the men talk and encourage them in such.
  • Women should display their virtue by protesting any injury to their honor loudly
  • Women should not enhance their tales with white lies, except to enhance innocent tales of mirth.
  • A lady should not overindulge in eating or drinking.
  • Friends should be cherished and always taken into complete confidence so that they may advice you, though this should never be a married friend who might owe loyalties elsewhere.
  • Do not make confidants of your servants, but trust their loyalty.
  • A woman should not assume too quickly that a man wants to be her lover, as that will open her up to ridicule. A man who converses well might simply be a platonic friend without further designs.
  • It is frowned upon to declare your love for a person. A sensible man never asks this of a lady, not even, or most especially, his wife, nor will he offer it in turn. It is considered indelicate, as violent emotions will eventually lead to disgust.

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Courtship and Love

Romantic Love and Marriage do not get equated with each other until the 19th century, although there are some trends already there in the 18th century. In the Restoration period marriage is for wealth, influence and alliance, not for love which one either avoids or reserves for ones mistresses. It is even quite common for gentlemen of quality to maintain one or more platonic relationships with women other than their wives, dining with them for the pure pleasure of their company and conversation with only a hint of eroticism.

 

Other options than marriage

 

While women were expected to remain virtuous till they have married and shared the marriage bed, the young gentlemen were no less than expected to enjoy some carnal lust before settling down. Some of these lustful encounters lead the flustered gentlemen to engage in a morganatic marriage with their mistresses, reserved for those marriages for which one did not ask permission from king or parents, only words spoken before a priest and two witnesses. Often these were marriages between two persons of different status or class. They are also called clandestine marriages, and a law in 1753 seeks to abandon the practice entirely. In 1675 however, the morganatic marriage was not uncommon, although not publicly condoned. Those men and women who resorted to clandestine marriage did so because they wanted to keep their marriage a secret. Such ceremonies were secret because they were not performed with the rites and banns of a public ceremony (although they were performed by a priest), they were conducted far from family and friends, they did not necessarily take place in a church ( common alternatives included private houses, brothels, prisons, alehouses, and coffee shops), and they often took place outside of the typical marriage hours of 8:00 a.m. to noon.

 

Steps in a courtship

 

A gentleman that would seek the hand of a lady in honorable marriage would most likely discuss the matter with her father, or in absence there of with her guardian. A gentleman would need permission to court the lady, and in all likelihood a contract detailing the financial situation would be agreed upon even in this early stage, including the dowry, and arrangements of pension for when the lady should become a widow, often equal to the original dowry. Meanwhile the lady would receive small tokens of the gentleman's interest, such as flowers, gloves or even being asked to dance more than once during the evening. The more a gentleman demanded of the time of a lady, the more he signalled his interest without even a word being spoken of the prospect of marriage. To be too frank about such subjects would lead to loss of face for the gentleman should her father reject his offer.

 

During all these encounters it was rare for a nobleman or woman to have seen each other naked. At the very least one kept the chemise on. One reason people kept their clothes on is that they were almost never alone. In 1674 Elizabeth Myres, like many servants, slept in a truckle-bed at the foot of her mistress's bed. When her mistress took a lover it was Elizabeth's job to help him pull off his shoes, after which he would climb into her mistress's bed and pull the curtains close; Elizabeth would lie a few feet away hearing 'kind words and expressions of love pass between them'. Nobody expected her to leave the room. Obviously, giving regard to 21st century senses of privacy, our game has deviated somewhat from this standard (giving servants their own room) but it is good to keep it in mind for reference. Moments of passion were but stolen moments in time and not all that frequent.

 

Things that might possibly feature in a courtship:

 

  • Chivalrous gentlemen in England often sent a pair of gloves to their true loves. If the woman wore the gloves to church on Sunday it signalled her acceptance of the proposal.
  • Dancing with a lady more than once during an evening signalled a courtship to the general public

 

Typical Scandals

 

The 17th century is still a rather rough, violent age with the state and the church struggling to get control of these disruptive urges through the setting of standards that were not always observed. Typical forms of behaviour include rape (which at the time included all forms of seduction as it was a term for all sex without the parents permission), kidnapping and elopement, with cruelty and violence being the norm rather than the exception. Problems associated with morganatic or clandestine marriages, apart from shaming the family honor, included desertion and bigamy. Homosexuality and incest were also two subjects that were prone to censure. While it may have been practised, it was not condoned. Adultery by women, while common, was considered as a form of treason against the church and the King. Men where of course expected to have mistresses, but of lower status, or a widow. The seduction of married women was frowned upon as adultery though with lesser punishment than for the women.

 

Divorce

 

More correctly phrased “separation of bed and board,” this was not a divorce in the modern sense. It was a legal and ecclesiastically sanctioned form of separation, requiring a peer to seek an Act of Parliament. A most public and expensive undertaking, it was rarely done, and generally only in order that the peer might remarry and secure an heir. The lady returned to her family, no longer his husband's financial responsibility.

 

One notable case was that of John Manners, Lord de Roos. He was successful, after several years, in receiving permission to remarry.

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Widow

A widow is a woman who had been married, but whose husband has died. This meant that she was now in possession of the Widow's Bed, usually equal to or greater than her dowry, as determined by the terms of the marriage settlement. In the case of a woman from a wealthy family, married to an equally wealthy husband, the widow could find herself the mistress of extensive lands, as well as other assets, as an estate or land was often part of a wealthy bride's dowry. This was a means of keeping assets within the family, even when one had daughters.

 

If her husband had died intestate, she was entitled to one-third of her deceased husband's estate, her dower portion (excluding any entailed property). The remaining two-thirds were divided amongst any legitimate or acknowledged children of the husband, and the widow became the Administratrix of the estates of any minor children failing a Mother-in-Law or other male relation (father of the husband).

 

A widow was free to remarry, and able to contract a second or subsequent marriage on her own behalf (her 1/3 portion was forfeit if she did so but she was able to use her widow's bed for a new marriage).

 

Yet widowhood was the one female condition that allowed a woman to be free from the dictates of a male custodian, be he father, brother, husband, or other relation. A widow could conduct business on her own behalf (though usually via a male estate manager or steward), and could continue her deceased husband's business, if he had been in trade. In addition, society did not hold her up to the high moral standards of behaviour which they held out for maidens. Widows were thought to be "merry" because of their newly attained freedom.

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Peeress in Her Own Right

Any person, male or female, who is the direct recipient of a title, whether through inheritance or new creation, is said to hold the title ''suo jure'' or, "in his or her own right." All other titles derived from such titles are by courtesy alone. Thus, while the wife of an earl is still called a countess, she is only a countess courtesy of her husband.

 

Becoming a Peeress in One's Own Right

 

There are three ways a woman may hold a title suo jure.

  • She inherits the title when the preceding peer(ess) dies, the title (only a barony) issued by writ.
  • She is granted a father's peerage by Parliamentary and Royal Warrant.
  • She is granted a peerage of her own at the current monarch's discretion.

Inheritance as Heir General

 

Most of the most ancient peerages in England (the ones whose original date of creation date back to eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth centuries) were heritable by both male and female children of the titleholder. These titles were issued as Writs, or a direct summons by a monarch to attend Parliament. As such, they devolve upon the "Heirs General" of the current titleholder or, any legitimate child, male or female. Naturally, males get first preference, but, should a peer holding a writ peerage die without sons, the title can be inherited by one of his daughters. Unlike with sons, however, there is no primogeniture amongst daughters. Daughters enjoy equal inheritance from their fathers and so, if a peer dies without a son but has more than one daughter, the title will go into "abeyance" until the Lord Chancellor "terminates" the title in favor of one of them.

 

Additionally, like the monarchy itself, these types of peerages will go to a female even if there is another male able to inherit the title. For example, Jane Anson, Baroness of Linfield has two sons: James and Henry. If James predeceases his mother but has left a daughter, Evelyn, Evelyn would inherit the title and not Henry. It is a direct line of succession inheritance. Uncles, though male, do not trump their nieces' right to the title.

 

Note: Many Scottish peerages, like the ancient English peerages devolve upon Heirs General. Most countesses in their own right hold a Scottish title for this exact reason.

 

Inheritance by Parliamentary and Royal Warrant

 

This pertains only to peerages issued by letters patent, which usually stipulate inheritance to "Heirs Male of the Body", or legitimate sons of a current titleholder. If a peer is nearing the end of his life and realizes that he will probably never have a son, he can submit a private act to Parliament and the king to have the peerage re-issued with a special codicil stating that it can be inherited by a specific female heir. In this case, the peer, Parliament, or the king can choose specifically the next heir, from amongst the daughters of said peer. The new peerage is then said to have been re-issued by Parliamentary and Royal Warrant.

 

New Creation Peerages

 

Generally, this only ever happens to current or former mistresses of a king. For services rendered to the crown, the monarch may choose to confer a peerage upon a favoured bedmate. Because the peerage is granted to her, and not to a husband, it is hers suo jure. However, the king does not have ''complete'' discretion when it comes to creating new peerages. He must gain the approval of Parliament first (since they will be directly affected by the creation of more seats in the House of Lords) which is why Nell Gwynn was never raised to the peerage.

 

Families of Peeresses in Their Own Right

 

Husbands

Husbands of peeresses in their own right are not eligible for a courtesy title derived from their wives' peerages. They do, however acquire an important right from them: they execute any hereditary office which accompanies said peerages. For example, in 1818 Lady Willoughby de Eresby's husband fulfilled her role as Hereditary Great Chamberlain of England.

 

Children

Children of peeresses in their own right are eligible to be addressed by the proper courtesy title according to their mother's rank. Eldest sons are entitled to use a subsidiary title if one is available and, if of age, can take their mothers' seat in the House of Lords in her place, even if she is still alive.

 

Peeresses in Their Own Right at Age of Intrigue

 

Charles II had a penchant for giving titles to his mistresses. Two of these mistresses are played out as NPCs in the game.

  • Barbara Palmer, nee Villiers, Duchess of Cleveland
  • Louise de Kerouaille, Duchess of Portsmouth

All other titled women in the game hold their titles by courtesy of a living or deceased husband, with the exception of:

  • Isabeau Everhart, Baroness of Lismire
  • Elizabeth Legge, Viscountess of Kingston upon Thames

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Pregnancy and Childbirth

Sex is a gamble, each act of intercourse carries which it the chance of a resulting pregnancy. Don’t assume that this only poses a problem for female characters, for while they have to deal with the immediate problem more immediately, it is quite possible for a gentleman to discover himself unexpectedly saddled with a bastard nine months down the line.

 

How one becomes Pregnant

 

On behalf of Mother Nature, the moderating team throw a dice every month for every character PC and NPC that has had intercourse three months ago (to reflect smaller miscarriages etc that would hardly be noticeable the first quarter of pregnancy is ignored). Both negative and positive modifiers are then applied taking into consideration the past history or each player, how promiscuous they have been, general precautions taken and various other secret things. If a character is not pregnant nothing will happen, life will go on as normal.

 

If we get a positive result, the woman can expect hints and warning signs will start to appear when a sufficient amount of time has passed for the pregnancy to begin affecting them. Then she can decide whether it is time to panic or rejoice. Gentleman will get no immediate clues if they managed to impregnate someone, they are totally reliant on the woman in their life to share the news. After some time has passed gents might begin noticing changes in that certain woman that lead him to suspect the truth, though remember a pregnancy can easily be concealed by the dresses of the age well into the fifth month.

 

Just to get a general idea, here are some of the cumulative modifiers we use:

Decrease Pregnancies: herbal precautions (procured IC), withdrawal method, rinsing out the womb after intercourse, using a condom (procured IC), age, one partner, older partner, etc

Increase Likelihood of Pregnancies: past pregnancies, fathering other children, frequent intercourse. Frequent is defined as more than 6 times a week

A lady in her childbearing years has a base 10% chance of still being pregnant after three months, though modifiers nearly always apply. Moderators will above all translate IC story logic into modifiers when making the final call. We hope you notice that you can influence failure or success by clever play.

 

Consequences of pregnancy for a PC

 

Apart from obvious signs and discomfort (fatigue, morning sickness, belly aches, swollen ankles, mood swings, protruding belly) there are some important consequences that a female PC will be confronted with. Consider carefully if you are willing to deal with those consequences.

 

Restrictions

 

A lady known to be pregnant, married or not, will be expected to limit her actions so as not to threaten the child. This means no strenuous activity such as sword fighting, horse riding and dancing. Likely she'll be fussed over by relatives and/or husbands who suggest that she takes naps, put up her feet, and only think happy thoughts (for what you think, it was widely believed, might affect the child's looks and abilities).

 

Apart from imagined ills, there is the possibility of an actual rough pregnancy that may leave the character weak, frequently in bed etc.

 

Confinement

 

The period between the 8th month of pregnancy and the month thereafter the (expectant) mother is confined to her country estate, with only female attendants and possibly her husband. In the game this means that if this falls into a season you'll be out of the game for some time. We therefore try to time those periods into recesses.

 

Childbirth

 

There are several risks involved with childbirth that may result in either the death of a PC or the baby. Other consequences can be ill health or future bareness. Modifiers include the good health of the mother, her wide hips and the presence of appropriate healthcare. As your time draws near moderators will discuss how you can influence this.

 

How you can influence the risk of your PC dying as a result of childbirth:

  • Don't get pregnant Either don't have sex, do not get married, or find a way to persuade your husband to continue to avoid pregnancy. Alternative you can use contraceptives (such as condoms or herbs) in a bid to avoid conception.
  • Undo the pregnancy Perhaps your character has a miscarriage due to a fall, or an illness, which can be voluntarily attracted for this purpose. Riding horse till late in the pregnancy for instance is a well known risk. There are abortive herbs. There are abortionists. All of this of course carries its own risk, but not death if you decide on it swiftly after your dice roll reveals the pregnancy. The later in the pregnancy the bigger the risks to the mother.
  • Make sure your husband cares about your continued survival It is the husband who decides in the heat of the moment whether to spare the child or the mother if a choice has to be made. It is also the husband who pays (and finds) the midwives and or doctors.
  • Have good healthcare A midwife of good standing is always better than a doctor as they are more experienced in female needs and the specifics of childbirth. However if you have small hips or other such diagnoses have been made, then adding a doctor to the team might improve your chances.

 

Unmarried Mothers

 

Though society can be quite liberal in its outlook it is not yet ready to turn a blind eye to illegitimate pregnancies. There is some good news however, it does not matter when the child was conceived as long as it is born in wedlock, not necessarily to the biological father. There are likely to be dire consequences for a young woman who has an illegitimate child, which can varying from losing all financial privacies to all out being disowned by her family. The one exception is if the father is a very high profile and powerful figure and he chooses to acknowledge the child as his own.

 

If faced with a pregnancy out of wedlock there are several options open to you:

 

  • Undo the pregnancy Perhaps your character has a miscarriage due to a fall, or an illness, which can be voluntarily attracted for this purpose. Riding horse till late in the pregnancy for instance is a well known risk. There are abortive herbs. There are abortionists. All of this of course carries its own risk, but not death if you decide on it swiftly after your dice roll reveals the pregnancy. The later in the pregnancy the bigger the risks to the mother.
  • Hide the pregnancy With a little luck and some careful dressing you may be able to hide the pregnancy for a long time. You will need to employ tactics to divert attention if people begin to become suspicious. As soon as you begin to show you will need to hide from public life, make arrangements on where you will have the child and who will take it in. However, such a path is wide open to blackmail.
  • Get married It does not matter that you were not married when you conceived, or who the biological father is, as long as you get a ring on your finger before the child is born. Trick, plead or bribe someone into marrying you.
  • Do nothing You can of course decide to turn your back on convention and openly announce to everyone you are having a child out of wedlock and hope the father will support you. However, you must be prepared to face the consequences and may find yourself a social pariah

 

Pleading your Belly

If you are about to be convicted for a crime, pregnancy might be the best thing that just happened to you. Or maybe you can simply pretend to be pregnant. Pleading the belly was a process available at English common law, which permitted women pregnant with late stage fetuses to receive a reprieve of their death sentences until delivery.

 

In practice those ladies that pleaded their bellies were often pardoned, or their sentence was transmuted to transportation. While a set of matrons was supposed to check if a child had indeed quickened (aka if movement could be detected), this system was very fraudulent and supposedly open to bribes, including getting women pregnant when already in jail.

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