We tend to think of family life in the sixteenth century as perhaps more utilitarian than now. People were not expected to marry for romantic reasons, and the high childhood mortality rate has led many commentators to assume that children were less valued than they are now. In fact, the reality was a bit more nuanced.

Although romantic love was not considered an appropriate primary reason for matrimony, conjugal love was considered to be the foundation of family life. Post Reformation, in particular, the Church preached on the duty of spouses to love each other.

The Tudors and Stewarts were also much less prudish about sex than in later ages. Although it was intended primarily for procreation, rather than enjoyment in itself, spouses were enjoined not to refuse each other, and it was considered necessary for women to enjoy the act to conceive.

The loss of many children in infancy was never a light matter, but the certainty that every loss was the will of God made displays of immoderate grief frowned upon.