I'm writing about a world where there is magic and one of the basic uses is as birth control, it is relatively cheap to obtain. I want to know the effect birth control would have on the concept of marriage during the time period

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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to worldbuilding. As a general rule, "what is the effect of X on society?" is always too broad of a question for our standards. Please take the tour, read the help center and then edit your question to make it compliant with them. Then it might be reopened and answered. $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    Aug 21 '20 at 6:49
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    $\begingroup$ I would say that 12 eggs is pretty cheap birth control. Anticoncepction was known and used since ancient time. Also severe malnoutrishion and hard work in medieval time meant that women didn't had monthly periods. $\endgroup$ Aug 21 '20 at 7:18
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    $\begingroup$ Medieval people were not stupid, and family planning is not a modern invention. Of course, not everybody practiced family planning; pesants, workers and so on depended on the labor of children and had no wealth to conserve, so they went for the maximum number of children. But then, even today such families don't use birth control. (And I don't fully see what's the link between the availability of methods for avoiding conception and "the concept of marriage".) (P.S. In western Europe, the Middle Ages plus the Renaissance cover almost 1,200 years. That is a loooong time.) $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Aug 21 '20 at 8:25
  • $\begingroup$ This was also a period where, at times, clergy pressed the idea of families pretty hard - but that depends specifically on what 10-year period you're talking about. @AlexP is right, it was a 1,200 year period. Can you narrow it down to a 10-year period? Can you tell us exactly where in Europe our test-family lives? Laws, culture, and mores varied considerably between locations. It would also be good to know what their political leanings are, their affluence, and their religion. $\endgroup$ Aug 21 '20 at 15:10
  • $\begingroup$ I think you might be inserting modern American leftist political ideals & worldview a wee bit too much into your "medieval / renaissance" world. You might consider studying the (Western) medieval / renaissance worldview first. $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Aug 21 '20 at 16:24

Very little

As the comments have pointed out, birth control wasn't unknown nor unacceptable to medieval European peasants, though their version of abortion was to induce a miscarriage. That said, peasants didn't really use birth control because children were a resource for a peasant family - free labor to work the fields, for instance. The expression appropriate to the time period is 'Children are a poor man's riches'.

Among the nobility, birth control would have been more useful (don't want to get caught having an affair with an unmarried woman, for instance), but since they had access to a rudimentary form of it at the time, it probably wouldn't have that much of an impact.

  • $\begingroup$ They used multiple methods for family planning; inducing a miscarriage (aka an abortion) was only one of them. They used primitive diaphragms, they used spermicides and / or irrigation, they used the rhythm method, and so on. And the most ruthless planners were not the rich nobles: it was the relatively well-to-do farmers and burghers, who were really really interested in avoiding the dissipation of the limited family wealth. For a farmer who owned just enough land to be able to be independent it was crucial not to split it into multiple small pieces. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Aug 21 '20 at 14:42
  • $\begingroup$ @AlexP That's why they would only give their land to the firstborn and apprentice the rest of their children off. $\endgroup$
    – Halfthawed
    Aug 21 '20 at 15:05
  • $\begingroup$ That depends very much on the legal and judicial framework, and on the availability of apprenticeship positions. In most cities there were barely enough apprenticeship positions for the sons of the members of the guild; and most people didn't even live in cities... It was actually quite a feat of intrigueship to get an apprenticeship for the son of a non-member. Life was tough in the Middle Ages. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Aug 21 '20 at 16:33

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