Archiver > GEN-MEDIEVAL > 2000-03 > 0953840567

From: <>
Subject: Re: Life expectations
Date: Thu, 23 Mar 2000 19:42:47 GMT

In article <AsfC4.34$>,
"Dr. George Tsambourakis" <> wrote:
> I was wondering if any individuals or Uni's did a
> study about life expectations for males and females and
> how these improved (or otherwise) over the centuries.
> I did a few quick calculations, and it appears that in the
> 12th century, life expectation for a man was 38-40 years
> and for a women 53-55 years.
> Average marriage age was 17 for a man, 14 for woman.
> I know it is based on a very small sample and therefore it
> is questionable.
> I hope that there is out there somebody who did study this
> because (I have noticed) many birth dates (years) and/or
> death dates (years) are based on guess work.

Life expectation at what age? A male expectation at birth of 38-40
years seems at the top end of the range suggested by most studies for
later centuries, while a female average of 53-55 surely can't represent
expectation of life at birth (life tables suggest a male average only
two or three years shorter than females').

JC Russell estimated expectation of life at birth at 35.3 years among
532 male English landholders born c1200-75, suggesting infant mortality
around a fifth (ie those dying in the first year of life). Wrigley &
Schofield found a similar average expectation for the English
population of both sexes in 1540-1700.

An average age at marriage of 14 and 17 seems even more extraordinary,
bearing in mind that an average must encompass all those who married at
a later age: such a low figure suggests that almost everyone who was
ever to marry did so within a few years of puberty.

Later estimates suggest an average nearer the mid twenties, and I doubt
that the age would have been a decade lower four centuries earlier,
though it has been suggested that the nobility married young because of
the pressing issue of inheritance.

I'd still be interested to know more about the source of your figures.
The place? Sample size? A large degree of regional variation is of
course to be expected, and there's precious little material for the
period, so any data would be welcome.

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