Saturday, January 28, 2012

Interesting words and vignettes from the book of ' Forgotten English'

I recently purchased Forgotten English by Jeffrey Kacirk. It’s filled with fascinating vignettes.
For example: Amober – Medieval Welsh legal term for a “maiden fee” imposed by the lord of a manor as compensation for forfeiting his right of primae noctis, literally the “first night.” Under this custom, know as cuillage in medieval Scotland, he was entitled to the right of “first refusal” with any woman in his employment on her wedding night. If her husband wished to avoid this outrageous insult, he was often forced to pay an amober.
Hazlitt wrote that during the late thirteenth-century reign of Edward I, to add insult to injury, "in Cornwall it was then a manorial custom ...that she should find surety to the lord o the said manor to return to it after the death of her husband, if he predeceased her." 
Another annoyance face by newlyweds was a delay imposed by the Church during medieval times until their bed was "properly blessed." The new married couples were made to wait till midnight after the marriage day, before they would pronounce a benediction, unless handsomely paid for it, and they durst not undress without it, on pain of excommunication.


Katherine Pym said...

This sort of custom truly irritates me. The absolute obedience to men, whether husband or maid under a lord of the manor, is abhorrent. I would not last long during those times. Katherine Pym

Maggi Andersen said...

None of us modern women would, Katherine. We've come a long way to get where we are. What fascinates me is how the lords of the land made the laws to suit themselves.
It's horrendous to think of how little power most of the women had.

Teresa Thomas Bohannon said...

There is a great costume drama from the late 50s, early 60s that features this concept. I'm not positive, because it has been many years since I last watched it, but I believe it was The Warlord with Charlton Heston. ...And if it wasn't, it was a great movie anyway. :)

Maggi Andersen said...

Thanks Teresa, I'll look out for that one.