University of Jyväskylä

Dissertation: 13 Mar 2015: Special friendship. Love between a man and a woman in Early Modern rural Finland (Kietäväinen-Sirén)

Start date: Mar 13, 2015 12:00 PM

End date: Mar 13, 2015 03:00 PM

Location: Seminaarinmäki, Historica Building, H320

Hanna Kietäväinen-Sirén. Photographer: Anssi Hurme
Hanna Kietäväinen-Sirén. Photographer: Anssi Hurme
M.A. Hanna Kietäväinen-Sirén defends her doctoral dissertation in Finnish History ”Erityinen ystävyys. Miehen ja naisen välinen rakkaus uuden ajan alun Suomessa (n. 1650–1700)”. Opponent  docent Anu Korhonen (University of Helsinki) and custos professor Kustaa H. J. Vilkuna (University of Jyväskylä). The event is in Finnish.


In this dissertation I study the understandings, interpretations and experiences of love between a man and a woman in Early Modern rural Finland. As the marital relationship was the premise of all heterosexual relations in Early Modern society, I also address the motives for marriage and the marital relationship.

The main research material consists of transcribed district court protocols from Eastern and Western Finland and Käkisalmi circa 1650–1700. Love was discussed in court only in connection with crime and disorder. However, the court narratives also reveal “normal” and desired love. Love was an essential part of the relationship between the sexes, and all loving relationships were measured in relation to marriage. The marriage institution was the basis of the Early Modern emotional regime, which safeguarded its special status by regulating loving relationships strictly and propagating the ideal marital love to govern the lives of its subjects. Beside the authorities, the local emotional community controlled and supervised relationships, but allowed greater flexibility.

Love between the sexes was always sexual and corporal in essence. As an affect it was connected to the heart and its sensations. The emotives of love were corporal, and the marital relationship was understood as a carnal union. In addition to bodily emotives, love manifested in attitude, intimacy and gifts. It was seen as an answer to observed beauty, both inner and outer. Marital love was pictured as providence, whereas sinful love originated with the Devil. Love was inseparable from the social and economic aspects of marital life, but it required economic viability and social integration as well. Love between a man and a woman was structured through two conceptual entities: the special friendship and a normative “right married love”. Friendship carried connotations of good will and confidentiality, whereas the “right marital love” was fundamentally a mode of action, the realization of reciprocal hierarchy and duties.

Finally, as this normative love created, maintained and justified order and hierarchy both at the level of individual household and the wider society, love was at the very core of the exercise of power.


More information

Hanna Kietäväinen-Sirén
hanna.kietavainen-siren@jyu.fi