AP World History : Family and Kinship 1450 to 1750

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP World History

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Family And Kinship 1450 To 1750

Select the dominant mechanism/guiding force according to which most Western Europeans lived during the fifteenth century.

Possible Answers:

Monarchial decrees

Intervals between regional/international conflicts

The ebb and flow of the seasons

Secular and religious taxation cycles

The Catholic Church’s calendar

Correct answer:

The Catholic Church’s calendar

Explanation:

During the fifteenth century, most Western Europeans lived their lives according to the regulations and cycle of the Catholic Church’s official calendar. This fact holds true for members of all social classes– rich and poor, noble and peasant, merchant and farmer. Instead of revolving around the ebb and flow of the different seasons the Church calendar was structured around different religious occasions, including feast days for particular saints, times of fasting, and other intervals of specific acts of religious observance such as Lent. It is estimated that nearly a third of every year, on average, was cumulatively spent on some sort of religious celebration, rite, or observance. This calendar was not any sort of official or formally written document but was instead a regular schedule, unchanging year after year, decade after decade, explained and enforced by the Church’s tight integration within most communities. The rhythm of life was therefore very much a religious one.

Example Question #4 : Family And Kinship

During the time period between the 14th and 17th centuries, a new trend emerged across Western Europe – men and women increasingly got married at later ages. What was the main reason behind this development?

Possible Answers:

Greater societal acceptance of women working outside the home

A decline in the overall male population due to warfare casualties

None of these

New Protestant notions of marriage and family life

Widespread economic difficulties

Correct answer:

Widespread economic difficulties

Explanation:

Over the course of the fourteenth to seventeenth centuries, the institution of marriage in Western European society underwent a rather dramatic transformation. It became increasingly common for both men and women, of all social classes, to get married later in their lives – on average, most men now got married in their mid to late twenties, while most women entered into matrimony during their early to middle twenties. This stood in stark contrast to the average marital ages in past decades, as well as to established Catholic Church rules, which permitted legal marriage to take place as early as age twelve for females and age fourteen for males. Previously, it was not at all unusual for both men and women to be married by their fifteenth or sixteenth birthdays – this was especially acceptable for women. However, as the fourteenth century proceeded onward, Western Europe began to experience a sort of economic crisis, which had the collective effect of making it more and more difficult for men and women to establish themselves as financially independent adults. In turn, these new hardships naturally motivated people to postpone entering into matrimony, while they first attempted to earn enough money, secure a good job, or otherwise improve their social standing. Consequently, the practice of arranged marriages also altered – it became much more usual for couples to have known each other, or to at least have been somewhat familiar, before being paired up by their parents. This new addendum to the parental arrangement of marriage was at least partially inspired by the poor economic climate; as more and more people had less, wealth became a much more fluid and flexible category.

Example Question #2 : Family And Kinship 1450 To 1750

Select the description that best characterizes the average 16th-century Western European family.

Possible Answers:

None of these

A married husband and wife, two sets of in-laws, and three children

A married husband and wife, six to seven children, and any surviving relatives

A man and woman (unmarried or married) and two to four children

A married husband and wife, all surviving extended family members, and one to three children

Correct answer:

A married husband and wife, six to seven children, and any surviving relatives

Explanation:

To properly understand the sociopolitical climate of the time, it is useful to examine the conventional familial arrangements in sixteenth century Western Europe. The average household consisted of a married husband and wife (both Catholicism and Protestantism stressed the absolute importance of matrimony). Generally, families of the time were rather large, with about six to seven children. Tragically, however, it was very common for at least one (if not more) of these children to perish before they reached adulthood – it has been estimated that over a third of all children died before they could reach the age of five. Those children who were fortunate enough to survive their toddler years still had more hurdles to overcome, as one half of these children would go on to perish during their teenage years. Most infant and child deaths were due to either disease, malnutrition, or some combination of both, and this held true for all social classes, rich and poor alike. In addition to all surviving children, the average household also consisted of a great many relatives, such as in-laws, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Wealthier families also lived alongside their domestic servants, slaves, and/or laborers.

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