In a time before divorce was generally accepted and husbands assumed the right to beat their wives, Elizabeth Foyster examines the variety of ways in which men, women and children responded to marital violence. This issue raised central questions concerning the extent of men’s authority over other family members, the limitations of women’s property rights, and the problems of access to divorce and child custody. Although opinion about the legitimacy of marital violence continued to be divided, Foyster demonstrates that beliefs determinig intolerable or cruel behavior had changed significantly by the nineteenth century.
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