Re: [Authentic_SCA] marriage age for women in 16th C. England
- In a message dated 10/30/2002 7:37:18 AM Eastern Standard Time, Authentic_SCA@yahoogroups.com writes:
I had always assumed that "way back when" women were
married off in their early teens. However, that does
not seem to be the pattern with my own ancesstresses
(if that's even a word!)
Most of the marriages we hear about were royalty, who of course were married or promised in marriage very young for political reasons. There is also evidence for girls who were inheriting large estates or wealth to be married off very early, especially in the cases of girls who had been orphaned, when whoever had the care of them stood to gain a geat deal from administering their lands.
The church, however, did set a minimum age for marriage, which I believe was 16 for girls, and girls of merchant or common classes seem to have married much later, in their late teen's or twenties, and the delay seems to have been primarily to allow them the chance to either complete an apprenticeship in the guilds that admitted women, or to allow them to accumulate money and so forth by working, so they would have something to contribute to the marriage.
Also, in the case of those marrying in their late twenties, it's possible that they had already been widowed and were remarrying; again, any woman with control of a large estate would often be urged or even required to remarry on the pretense that she needed aman to oversee the estates and provide any feudal obligations to the king.
Most of this info is memory from reading Barbara Hainawalt's books "The Ties That Bound" and "Growing Up in Medieval London", as well as the "History of Private Life" series, so it's possible there may be some errors.