Source 3: A "Constitutional" History
This is the type of history book where "kings and queens were mentioned only incidentally . . . Constitutional History was concerned only with social progress and political evolution; with the Black Death, and the invention of printing, and the use of gunpowder, and the formation of the Trade Guilds, and so forth . . . [Grant] turned the pages and marvelled how dull information is deprived of personality."
Tey follows Source 3 with Source 4, an invented piece of fiction called The Rose of Raby by Evelyn Payne-Ellis. My theory is that Tey may originally have wished to write an historical novel about the War of the Roses but her detective fiction roots pulled her in another direction.
|Henry V, portrayed here by the excellent|
|David Gwillim, fought wars at 16|
|He succeeded to the throne at 26.|
|Actors who play Henry are almost|
|always older than the man they portray.|
|It's a virtuoso role!|
Since the average life expectancy was about 40, 18 obviously meant something different than it does now although this is complicated by math. So many children died in childbirth, 40 is low almost by default. However, the fact remains that nobody took for granted the expectations of the modern age regarding life and death.
On the other hand, sources have pointed out that members of the merchant and peasant class did not treat 18 as adulthood in the sense that reaching 18 automatically meant ALL the accoutrements of adult life. Outside the upper classes, people in the Middle Ages actually did wait to get married until their mid-20s, mostly for financial reasons. As far as Shakespeare is concerned, Romeo and Juliet truly are as young as we think they are.
What strikes me in any overview of the Middle Ages is the sheer expediency of the ruling classes: the kid looks old enough to be married even though he hasn't hit puberty, hey, let's marry him to a princess. The young man can lift a sword, so give him an army.
Personally, I've never understood people who think it would be grand to live as royalty then or now. Me, I'll take a solid middle-class trades background in any time period.