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Set in London, the juicy drama, from executive producer Shonda Rhimes, follows beautiful young aristocrat Daphne Bridgerton Phoebe Dynevor as she makes her social debut with the goal of marrying for love. And she knows nothing of sex. And over the course of the series we watch her transform entirely. As depicted in the series, the season began when young women from noble families were presented before the real-life Queen Charlotte at the ball she first hosted inwhile standing beside an enormous birthday cake.

The tradition carried on with each sovereign until Queen Elizabeth II nixed the practice in Women like Daphne would have had some control over who they danced with or agreed to court publicly, but the pool of candidates was limited, and perhaps only a few of the bachelors would have been especially desirable. Daphne and Simon stroll the promenade together in order to create the idea that they are a couple. Going public — with chaperones, of course — was a critical step in the courtship process. For women, there was enormous pressure to secure a marriage within a single season. If someone spotted an unmarried woman canoodling with a man in a dark garden — as happens to Daphne — she would have been in major trouble.

Her sexual virtue had to appear unimpeachable, or she would be ruined on the marriage market. All this policing was more about money than morality, says Greig. Young women would be accompanied in public by a chaperone — an older family member or even a friend the same age. The point was to preserve their reputation and limit their contact with members of the opposite sex, lest they fall for an actor or footman or someone else inappropriate, Greig says.

Probably very little. Hall, a historian of gender and sexuality. Indeed, her younger sister Eloise Claudia Jessie is baffled to hear of an unmarried maid who has become pregnant. The only counsel comes from her mother, who tells her what to expect on her wedding night using vague metaphors about rain. But her exposure would have been severely limited. Whatever the case may be, sexual naivete — or at least the appearance of it — would have been vital for a genteel young woman hoping to marry well, says Vickery.

But she would still be expected to be an innocent virgin on her wedding night. Any knowledge she might have had would be carefully concealed. We fact-checked it. Women understood the ificance of their menstrual cycle but not how it affected their fertility, says Vickery. Frustrated by her lack of knowledge about sex, Daphne eventually turns to her maid, Rose Molly McGlynnfor some straight talk about the facts of life. The servants would likely be much more experienced.

They may not have had much choice in the matter. Over the course of a century, British society became much more secular, and church laws regulating sexuality were left by the wayside.

We get celebrity courtesans and mistresses. This permissiveness started at the top: The Prince Regent later King George IVwho ruled as proxy for his father, the mentally ill King George III, from tohad numerous mistresses, a secret illegal marriage and several rumored illegitimate children. Was there a double standard when it came to sex? After marriage, a man had a right to demand sexual servicing.

There was no such crime as marital rape. This would have been the norm, says Vickery.

Doubtless all pregnant women knew of someone who had died in childbed, and no one could guarantee that they would not be the next. Morbid fears about pregnancy and labor appear in the letters written by women in this time period. Marina Ruby Parker does the opposite: She leaves her family farm to stay with distant cousins, the Featheringtons, in hopes of scoring a husband before her secret becomes public knowledge.

At the time, couples under 21 could marry in Scotland without parental approval. When her plot fails, Marina attempts to terminate the pregnancy with a tea made of herbs from the kitchen. Many women turned to herbal remedies such as pennyroyalwhich were often effective in terminating pregnancy but could also be toxic. If these failed, they might go to a practitioner of some kind for something stronger. But in the first instance, a woman might want to keep it a secret and hope she could deal with it herself.

The most vulnerable women were domestic servants, who could be fired if they became pregnant. Women from all social classes found themselves in trouble. In Regency London, many women who could not care for their babies — whether because of poverty or illegitimacy — gave them up to the Foundling Hospital, a charity orphanage founded in at a time when an estimated 1, babies were abandoned every year in the city.

Mothers left a token with their babies, keeping half for themselves in the event they ever wanted to reunite with their. Meredith Blake is an entertainment reporter for the Los Angeles Times based out of New York City, where she primarily covers television. A native of Bethlehem, Pa.

Company Town. All Sections. About Us. B2B Publishing. Business Visionaries. Hot Property. Times Events. Times Store. Facebook Twitter Show more sharing options Share Close extra sharing options. By Meredith Blake Staff Writer. Television Stuffy? Meredith Blake. Follow Us twitter instagram facebook. More From the Los Angeles Times.

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