Thursday, May 8, 2014

Thoughts on Historical Marriage



 

"You know what to expect from me, as you have seen my character of a good wife. Suppose I tell you now, what I, in my turn, expect, and how you may best please me and make me happy.—Thus then I begin—Let me ever have the sweet consiousness of knowing myself the best beloved of your heart—I do not always require a lover’s attention—that wou’d be impossible, but let it never appear by your conduct that I am indifferent to you."
Margaret Davenport Coulter to John Coulter, May 10, 1795.


BRIDELOPE dates back to A.D. 950 when it was called brydlopa. Part of this custom, called the ‘run for the bride-door,’ was an ancient tradition in which the bride was both symbolically and physically swept off on horseback to her husband’s home by him and sometimes a helper who was later known as the ‘best man’.




The Anglo-Saxon root word wedd (‘to gamble, wager’) first referred to livestock or other payment by the groom to the bride’s father, as a more civilized alternative to abduction.


In the 17th Century, before it became associated with romantic images, elopement was a legal term for the act of a woman who leaves her husband and ‘dwells with the adulterer, by which she shall lose her dower’. (Thomas Blount Glossographia 1656.)

As a symbol of resistance, the well-prepared Saxon bride’s wedding attire often included knives, which she ‘gracefully hung from her girdle’.
John Heywood listed other bridal equipment in his 1545 work The Four Ps:
Silke swathbonds, ribbands, and sleeve-laces,
Girdles, knives, purses and pin-cases,
Fortune dothe give these knives to you,
To cut the thred of love if’t be not true.

Bridesmaids were originally a maid’s closest friends who might attempt to defend her from an unwanted groom and make sure she didn’t panic and run off, especially in arranged marriages. In a custom known as ‘charming the path,’ the bride was hidden or disguised when the groom’s party came for her.
‘This was a common practice at old-fashioned weddings in Wales, among other places. The bride is generally expected to make a great show of resistance to her departure, and to lament loudly.’
(Burne, Charlotte S. The Handbook of Folklore. London 1883)

As late as the 18th Century, a custom that often accompanied weddings in Wales was a race by the male members of the wedding party to the couple’s future residence, with food or a silk scarf (originally the bride’s garter, a potent love charm) typically awarded to the winner.

At Scottish country weddings, a related custom, to ‘ride the brose,’ with the first to arrive receiving a ‘cog of brose,’ or ‘good fat broth made for the occasion.’ (John Jamieson. An Etymological Dictionary of the Scottish Language 1808)
 ‘The boast of the winner was how far on with the brose he was before the rest of the company arrived.’


 In Georgian England marriage in the upper classes was mostly arranged.






My Amazon bestselling Georgian romance, THE RELUCTANT MARQUESS is a marriage of convenience story, set during the Georgian era.

Charity Barlow wished to marry for love. The rakish Lord Robert wishes only to tuck her away in the country once an heir is produced.

A country-bred girl, Charity Barlow suddenly finds herself married to a marquess, an aloof stranger determined to keep his thoughts and feelings to himself. She and Lord Robert have been forced by circumstances to marry, and she feels sure she is not the woman he would have selected given a choice.

The Marquess of St. Malin makes it plain to her that their marriage is merely for the procreation of an heir, and once that is achieved, he intends to continue living the life he enjoyed before he met her.

While he takes up his life in London once more, Charity is left to wander the echoing corridors of St. Malin House, when she isn’t thrown into the midst of the mocking Haute Ton.

Charity is not at all sure she likes her new social equals, as they live by their own rules, which seem rather shocking. She’s not at all sure she likes her new husband either, except for his striking appearance and the dark desire in his eyes when he looks at her, which sends her pulses racing.

Lord Robert is a rake and does not deserve her love, but neither does she wish to live alone.

Might he be suffering from a sad past? Seeking to uncover it, Charity attempts to heal the wound to his heart, only to make things worse between them.

Will he ever love her?
Source: Forgotten English Jeffrey Kacirk, Quill William Morrow NY.S
Further reading:
Thomas Blount recognized that many of the new words entering the English language were those spoken in the street. He saw that tradesmen and merchants were collecting words as well as wares on their journeys overseas. And therefore many of these new words, such as coffee, chocolate, drapery, boot, omelette or balcony, were those used in shops or other public places - drinking houses, tailors, shoemakers or barbers.
Charlotte Burne (1850–1923) served the Folklore Society (FLS) for forty years. She was editor of the massive Shropshire Folklore (1883–6), and the second revised edition of the FLS's only official guide, The Handbook of Folklore (1914). She authored over seventy folklore papers, notes and reviews in Folklore and its predecessors, as well as several articles in newspapers and magazines; she was the first woman editor of this journal (1900–08) and the first woman President of the FLS (1909–10). This appreciation is the first part of a two-part study of her life and works. The second part will be a provisional bibliography of her published works.
John Jamieson FRSE (3 May 1759 – 12 July 1838) was a Scottish minister of religion, lexicographer, philologist and antiquary.

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