marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,
marycatelli
marycatelli

first comes marriage

To be sure, just because love has rendered life -- interesting for millennia doesn't mean that it's always done so in the same way.

In one online discussion of Anglo-Saxon wedding customs -- the families would draw up the financial side of things, the wedding would occur, and the next morning, after consummation, the groom would sign over the morning gift to her, the portion that was to be hers in widowhood -- one participant really, really, really liked it.  He was a financial counsellor, and after dealing with too many people who were married because their credit scores could not take the hit from divorce, he really liked a culture that honestly put property and sex forward as the central thing in marriage.

It's a thread one can find all over the place.  In old Norse myths, a tale of the birth and lives of Thrall, Carl, and Jarl had Thrall shacking up with a woman he liked the looks of, and who liked the looks of him, and Jarl sent off messengers, with rich gifts, to a king to offer to marry his daughter, but even Carl, having met the young woman in question, had to get her parents' leave.  Stands to reason that if property's involved you want to get the cool heads to have their say before the youngsters do something they would regret.

An advice book in Puritan New England urged a young woman to reject her parents' choice, not if she did not love him, but if she thought she could not come to love him.  In ancien regime France, it went the other way -- a man not orphaned married the woman his father choose from him, and there was a minor scandal about a noble couple who actually fell in love after their marriage.  Before was obviously impossible.

Earlier, in medieval times, The Art of Love actually argued that love was impossible between a married couple.  I've known readers to take this at face value, and it's true we have no countering voice at the time, but the book itself refutes the view that it was the view.  The question of whether it is possible is treated at great length, and one court case has the Court of Love dealing with a woman who claims not to have lost her lover's love by marrying him.  It ruled against her, but all this rumpus indicates a formidable enemy.  Within a couple of centuries, chivalric romances would have their heroes be love-sick and devote themselves to the service of the ladies whom they loved at first sight (or less, sometimes a description sufficed), but end with the happy marriage and a plentiful crop of children.  (Guinevere and La Belle Isolde never had kids while courtly love reigned in their romances.  Apparently bastards would make it unpleasantly realistic.)
Tags: ethos, families: matrimony, families: parent/child, world-building: economics, world-building: social classes
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