Our new season is now open: Spring 1677 !
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.
Subject of Scandals
Charles Perrault's famous 1697 collection, Tales of Times Past with Morals, better known today as the Mother Goose Tales, feature cruelty, deceit, greed, murder and nasty in-laws. His pre-Disney Sleeping Beauty is not chastely awakened by a kiss, but rather impregnated by a passing prince and hidden in the woods. Years later, the prince's mother tries to eat her. (In an earlier Italian version of the tale, the prince rapes the heroine in her sleep.) The tale of bluebeard tells of a young bride who discovers the corpses of her husbands previous wives in the cellar.
Pepys describes young women in London being abducted in broad daylight by gentlemen who had no reason to fear the authorities. Women told stories of forced sex not to bring prosecutions for rape, but in order to explain away illegitimate births (which were punished by a flogging). In the absence of a pregnancy there was little point in reporting a rape.
Problems associated with morganatic or clandestine marriages, apart from shaming the family honor, included desertion and bigamy. Men would promise women that they would marry them, and since the woman took this promise to be binding, she would sleep with him. But sadly, what often happened was that these women would become pregnant and then the men would desert them to marry another. Sometimes a woman claimed to have a clandestine marriage to get a hold of the inheritance for her children when her lover died. This often led to cases in court.
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. It could lead to a flogging, or if the results were disastrous to King and Country because of alliances could even incur a death penalty. 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. Note that the King himself felt not bound by such rules of society.