Younger Sons in Tudor and Stuart England

Linda Pollock questions the assumption that younger brothers in the 16th and 17th-centuries were automatically stifled and frustrated, impotent in the family pecking order.

My father charged you in his will to give me a good education: you have trained me like a peasant, obscuring and hiding from me all gentlemanlike qualities: the spirit of my father grows strong in me, and I will no longer endure it.

This Orlando de Boys in As You Like It accused his elder brother. In the bitterness of his complaint, in his distaste for his state of dependency and in his perception of the futility of his role, he appears to typify the plight of younger sons reaching adulthood in an inheritance system based on primogeniture.

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