Wednesday, 27 April 2011
Marital Miscellany - some Historical Trivia to do with Marriage.
With the wedding of Prince William and Katherine Middleton taking place this Friday, let's take a look at historical trivia associated with marriage.
In Anglo-Saxon times a man with many daughters was considered rich. He had plentiful helpers to do the cooking, cleaning, to raise crops and tend livestock…so if a daughter was lost to him through marriage, he needed compensation.
Price was decided by rank and experience:
A virgin was valued at twice as much as a widow, and there were four grades of widow:
worth 6 shillings (30 pence)
12 shillings (60 pence)
20 shillings (1 GBP)
and 50 shillings (GBP 2.50)
Since virgins were so highly rated, there were some unscrupulous fathers, with an eye for a profit, who would sell the same daughter several times over. However there was protection in the law if a husband found his wife was not in the condition the vendor had promised – he could ask for his money back!
Fortunately, when King Cnut (1016 – 35) took the English throne, he enacted a law that no woman could be compelled to marry against her will and that any monies changing hands were considered a gift and could not be refunded.
there were a number superstitions associated with marriage. England
It was a good omen if on the way to the church the bride met a toad, spider or wolf. However it was bad luck to meet a priest, monk, lizard, snake, dog or cat!
the marriage of a woman to a man whose surname began with the same letter as hers, was predicted to be unhappy. A saying ran; East Anglia
“To change the name and not the letter,
In the Scottish Highlands, to bless a marriage with happiness the best man was supposed to remove the left shoe of the groom at the door of the church and make the sign of the cross on the right side of the door. To this day it is the left shoe that is supposed to be tied to the back of the wedding car as it departs.
Also, if a younger sister married before her elder siblings, her sisters should dance barefoot at the wedding or they would never be married.
And finally, in northern
it was traditional young men attending the wedding, to pluck the garter from the bride’s leg as soon as the ceremony was over. To this end the bride would often was a special, ceremonial garter or ribbon, worn on the lower leg to facilitate its removal and spare her blushes from unwarranted private fumbling. England
So I hope Kate Middleton sees a toad and not a monk on the way to the Cathedral and I wish the couple every future happiness. I can’t wait to see what the dress looks like…rumour has it she’s wearing ivory….Now the colour of a bridal gown, that’s a whole new post…..