Marriage dating customs elizabethan era
In Shakespeare’s England, the process for getting married could be complex.
A couple wishing to marry had first to obtain the blessing of the church, either by obtaining a licence to marry, or by having the ‘banns’ read – that is, announcing the couple’s names and their intent to marry – on three successive Sundays from a church pulpits in the home parishes of both parties.
This was especially true at the end of the 16th century, when a growing population and a succession of meagre harvests sharply increased the numbers of poor people needing relief.
Many men and women in the middle and upper ranks of society married for the first time with the help of bequests or lifetime transfers of resources from the previous generation.
It was an age of exploration and expansion abroad, while back at home, the Protestant Reformation became more acceptable to the people, most certainly after the Spanish Armada was repulsed.
It was also the end of the period when England was a separate realm before its royal union with Scotland.
He explores the tension, in Shakespeare’s plays, between the old order, in which fathers chose their daughters’ husbands, and the new order based on mutual love, but still plagued by the threat of infidelity.
When in 1520 a Buckinghamshire girl, Joan Stevyns, belatedly implored her parents on her knees for their consent to her marriage decision, or at least her father’s blessing if she could not have his agreement or material help, he reportedly exploded: “Void harlot out of my sight!
” Even the children of the wealthy did however sometimes marry against their parents’ wishes.
This usually meant waiting at least until they were in their twenties.
Contemporary opinion was against the marriage of people who had not yet built up the means to maintain a family, or had little prospect of doing so.