Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Les Mis

Remember the play/movie, "Les Mis," and the girl who gets pregnant?  Her lover does not marry her but leaves her alone with a child.  It was 18th century France.  Had it been a hundred years earlier, he would have kept his commitment to marry her if she bore a child.  In these earlier times, the clergy looked the other way when boys and girls had sex to see if they were mutually fertile.  If so, boy would marry girl.  This was love and fertility.  Gus kept there commitments, their word.  But guys went rogue by the 1700s.  They still wanted to sex, but not the obligation.  The "Official Church" never condoned this premarital sex, but local priests and local custom had more influence.  An abandoned girl would often have to give up their child to an "orphanage" where the child would most likely die due to neglect or malnutrition.  Half the children in the 1700s died before they were 10.  Between 1750 and 1799 child mortality in the Dublin foundling home was 89%.  Thus the church focused on virginity for the girls to prevent all this child death and abandoned young women.  They wanted guys to be virgins too before marriage.  It was not an even playing field.  Is it ever?


  1. Social mores [like premarital conception] could be different in different places [France vs Ireland] and time periods [1800s vs 1700s], based on differences in cultures, in spite of religion imposed morality.

  2. what's your source??
    aj (

    1. I believe it is a book, "The Catholic Enlightenment by Ulrich L Lerner. Oxford Press put it out in 2016