Love and courtship notes
The Elizabethans were very practical lot. You didn’t marry for love; you married for social standing and to legitimize your children.
While it was legal for boys to marry at age 14 and girls to marry at age 12, Elizabethans “reached the age of consent” at age 21, and many did in fact wait until then to marry. Only among the nobility would you typically find marriages between much younger parties.
Marriages were arranged
Women were a little more important than cattle in this era
If you were women this is what happened: You had no say in your future and you were expected to except whatever “wise” decisions your parents (father) made for you.
If you got married this happened: 1. you were locked in for life. Once you got married there would most likely be no divorces because it required an act of parliament.
2. You were considered you husbands property
3. You could run your own home
4. No one could accuse you of being a witch. This was actually quite common in these days
With this in mind, the act of getting betrothed weighed heavily on the hearts of Elizabethan women, and several of their customs live on today. For example, the act of a betrothal was typically sealed with a kiss. A betrothal ring was not always exchanged, but the custom did gain popularity in Elizabethan times. The bride-to-be would wear the ring on her right hand until the wedding, when it moved to her left.
A betrothal was binding but, unlike a wedding, it could be broken without terrible fuss for one of several reasons–including disfigurement of either party, infidelity of either party, or either the man or woman committing treason or heresy. Of course, if it was discovered that either party was already married, that also would be cause for calling off the new wedding.
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