Introduction : unmarried and unknown : urban men and women in the Low Countries since the Early Modern Period
Faculty of Arts. History
Beverly Hills, Calif.
Journal of urban history. - Beverly Hills, Calif., 1974, currens
, p. 3-20
University of Antwerp
This essay introduces a special issue on The Lure of the City that examines the attraction of towns to unmarried men and women in the Low Countries during the early modern period and the nineteenth century. The issue has the relation between singles and cities as its main focus. Singles were present in disproportionately large numbers in urban areas, but the question is why? This essay sets out the historiographical framework for the contributions in the issue, discusses the sources and methodologies used, and provides a brief overview of the evolution of singleness in the Low Countries. The contributions all demonstrate the relevance of a comparative approach. It is revealed that towns and cities not only attracted but also created singles, that they offered different opportunities for different groups of unmarried people and that they affected men and women differently. Finally, it appears that not every town and city was attractive to men and women without a spouse.