RENAISSANCE ADVICE TO WOULD-BE HUSBANDS.
Here is what Juan Luis Vives wants you to consider, gentlemen:
- A woman has two virtues, and they are practically the only ones she must possess: piety and chastity.
- No, let’s make that three virtues: piety, chastity, and a good figure. Don’t marry a wife who is too short (as did King Archidamus of Sparta, with the result that his children could not maintain the dignity of a king because of their short stature).
- And don’t marry too young. The best age of marriage for men is at 34. If a man is much younger than that, he does not have the necessary strength for procreating children. Your wife should be at least 18. It is not good for her to become accustomed to love-maxing at a tender age. Lust is enkindled and her physical development hampered.
- Get some education. Some men think that the more stupid they are, the better they are. I would counsel them to beget asses rather than humans. Hey, I can subscribe to that. No, wait. I don’t like where this is going.
- Check what your wife is reading. She must not have access to complicated writings like questions of theology. It is not at all fitting for a woman to be curious and inquisitive about profound matters.
- Okay, no theology, but what about the other subjects? She should leave the study of nature, grammar, dialectic, history, political science, and mathematics to men. That doesn’t leave her with a lot of material. Oh, I see:
- Pious books are sufficient, for morals are best formed by piety.
- And the most important subject for a woman? How to keep your mouth shut. Count silence among the disciplines to be learned by your wife. It is the greatest ornament of her sex.
(Source: J.L. Vives, The Duty of Husbands)