Casanova was typical of his time in regarding 13 as a very marriageable age. In fact, in 1800, 63-year-old Sir John Acton (portrait) married his 13-year-old niece, Mary Ann Acton, (albeit with special papal dispensation) and was to go on to have children with her. One of the most conspicuous shifts in moral attitudes that divides the modern western world from the rest of the history of humanity prior to the mid-nineteenth century is this issue of the age of consent. Until that time an individual was regarded as capable of consent to sexual activity from around the age of 11. In the US the age of consent in Delaware in 1880 was 7. In a highly readable account, Stephen Robertson outlines the history of this shift in attitudes here.
‘Casanova in Paris: The Shadows of the King’ is freely available here.
27 long form articles on Casanova’s life and times are freely available here.
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