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The Betrothal of a Woman in Medieval Times – Historical Documents 101





The Betrothal of a Woman in Medieval Times – Historical Documents 101

The Betrothal of a Woman 975-1030

How a Man Shall Betroth a Maiden, and What Agreement There Ought to Be.

1. If a man wishes to betroth a maiden or a widow, and it so pleases her and her kinsmen, then it is right that the bridegroom first according to God’s laws and proper secular custom should promise and pledge to those who are her advocates, that he desires her in such a way that he will maintain her according to God’s law as a man should maintain his wife; and his friends are to stand surety for it.

2. Next, it must be known to whom belongs the remuneration for rearing her. The bridegroom is then to pledge this, and his friends are to stand surety for it.

3. Then afterwards the bridegroom is to announce what he grants her in return for her acceptance of his suit, and what he grants her if she should live longer than he.

4. If it is thus contracted, then it is right that she should be entitled to half the goods-and to all, if they have a child together-unless she marries again.

5. He is to strengthen what he promises with a pledge, and his friends are to stand surety for it.

6. If they then reach agreement about everything, then the kinsmen are to set about betrothing their kinswoman as wife and in lawful matrimony to him who has asked for her, and he who is leader of the betrothal is to receive the security.

7. If, however, one wishes to take her away from that district into that of another thegn, then it is to her interest that her friends have the assurance that no wrong will in paying compensation, if she has not possessions with which she can pay.

8. At the marriage there should by rights be a priest, who shall unite them together with God’s blessing in all prosperity.

9. It is also well to take care that one knows that one knows that they are not too closely related, lest one afterwards put asunder what was previously wrongly joined together.

This short text survives in the Textus Roffensis and the C.C.C.C.,MS383, and in Latin in Quadriparititus. The date is some time between 975 and 1030. A Fascinating Read.

Fredre Sigefrith
Keeper of the Documents
Scriptarius in Camelot

 



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