‘Barons’ and wife-beating

Oh dear Daily Mail …

Not that one would necessarily expect accuracy from the Daily Mail, but it should be noted that they have got the wrong end of the stick on a legal history matter.

Reporting the sale of an early law-book. an article today states that it was acceptable for men to beat their wives if the men were ‘barons’: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2543890/First-English-book-womens-rights-17th-century-sell-3-000.html

… but ‘baron’ was a term for any married man – it’s not being used as a title of nobility here – so the point is that all men could beat their wives – which is rather less amusing than the tone of the article suggests.