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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume III. Renascence and Reformation.

V. The Progress of Social Literature in Tudor Times

§ 6. Satires and disquisitions on women

The literature of the Middle Ages is prolific in warnings against marriage and in tales of domestic discord. Germany began the sixteenth century with a number of learned indictments against female character. But the English literature of this period was mostly influenced by a large number of French tracts, such as Les souhaits des hommes, et les souhaiz et beautés des dames, and Les quinze joyes de mariage. These poems accept the traditional views held concerning women, but begin to penetrate more deeply into the problems of domestic life and show a keener appreciation of its dramatic humour. A large number of English tracts are obviously inspired from these and similar sources. In every case we see how the readers who still delight in coarse allusions and horse-play are also attracted by character drawing and the creation of situations.