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Divorced, Beheaded, Sold (Paperback)

Ending an English Marriage 1500-1847

P&S History > British History > Tudors & Stuarts P&S History > Social History Women of History

By Maria Nicolaou
Imprint: Pen & Sword Social History
Pages: 191
ISBN: 9781781593400
Published: 31st May 2014
Last Released: 12th May 2014


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A fresh perspective on the seamy side of history. Maria Nicolaou has done considerable research into the largely unexplored area of divorce and marital separation from the Tudor period to the early Victorian era. Divorced, Beheaded, Sold is full of scandalous, little-known stories of wife sale, marital discord and audacious escapades of errant spouses, this is an interesting, as well as informative read in the same vein as Maureen Waller's The English Marriage and Kate Summerscale's Mrs Robinson's Disgrace.

Maria Nicolaou reveals how people ended their marriages in the days before divorce was readily available – from committing bigamy to selling a wife at market. Her book is full of colourful characters and warring spouses, like Con Philips, who fought off her husband with a gun filled with firework powder; the Duke of Grafton, who hired an army of detectives to spy on his wife and obtain proof of her adultery; and Marion Jones, who recruited a gang to take back her property from her husband.

As seen in Who Do You Think You Are? magazine and the Bradway Bugle.

This is a readable and informative account of how couples, some scandalous, found ways of escaping from disastrous marriages in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.

Essex Family Historian No.161

Historian Maria Nicolaou has uncovered colourful stories from legal documents and private papers to give an entertaining and informative read - including women who battled social convention to escape unhappy couplings.

Family Tree

Full of colourful characters and warring spouses.

Your Family Tree Magazine

Essential reading for all family historians especially as Nicolaou cites many individual cases, all of which are indexed. The research is extensive, the case studies and observations are fascinating and the final chapter features one of the most famous divorcees in history - that of King Henry VIII.

The Friends of Medway Archives

About Maria Nicolaou

MARIA NICOLAOU read for her undergraduate and master’s degrees in History at the University of Warwick, where she specialised in early modern history, women’s history and gender history. Maria gives talks on all aspects of her historical research.

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