Eighteenth-century European social relationships and attitudes reflected a clear cultural inheritance and a prevalent economic and technological environment. The Judaeo-Christian inheritance, clearly enunciated in the laws and teachings of the churches, decreed monogamy, prohibited marriage between close kin, stipulated procreation as a purpose of matrimony while condemning it outside, denounced abortion, infanticide, homosexuality and bestiality, made divorce very difficult, enforced care of children on their parents, while demanding reverence and obedience in return, venerated age, and ordered respect for authority, religious and secular, legal and law-enforcing. The environment was technologically unsophisticated and predominantly agrarian. Economic productivity was low, there was little substitute for manual labour and the value accrued through most labour was limited. Most of the population neither controlled nor produced much wealth. The principal means of acquiring wealth was by inheritance and most inheritance took place within the family. It is not surprising that the dominant ethos was patriarchal, hierarchical, conservative, religious and male-dominated.
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