Marriage in the Middle Ages
Posted on 31st December 2020
In medieval times women did not choose whom they wished to marry; the marriage was agreed and arranged by the parents, often based around monetary value such as acquiring property, or building political status or ambition. The bride and groom were often complete strangers, having never met until the day of the ceremony.
Marriages were often agreed between families when the children were as young as eight or nine years old; the marriage itself taking place any time after the girl reached twelve years of age, however it was usual for the girl to be a teenager and the boy to be in his early twenties.
A notice was placed on the door of the church to announce the marriage. This gave time for anybody with reasons why the marriage should not take place to come forward.
Reasons could include:
The bride and groom being too closely related
Either one having taken a religious vow
Either being guilty of the crime of killing someone
Bride’s family having debt and being unable to pay the dowry
On the day of the marriage the parents of the bride paid a dowry (marriage settlement) to the groom, an amount relative to the social standing of the bride’s family.
The wedding service did not take place within the church, but outside on the church steps where the bride and groom would read their vows, some of which are still used today including ‘promise to love, honour and obey’ and ‘in sickness and in health’. A ring was given to the bride and a mass took place inside the church.
Following the service, a large wedding feast was enjoyed by all, much as a wedding reception is held today.
Tagged as: Junior Middle Ages
Share this post: