Sexuality Throughout the Ages

Explore the history of sexuality.

Royal Marriage in the Medieval Period

Marriage Customs; photo courtesy of istock photo

A royal marriage in the medieval ages often looked a little more like a business contract or bargain, involving land, money, goods, gifts, and dowry. the most important goal of marriage between nobles was continued success and the acquisition of wealth. According to writings of the day, the marriage of Bulgarian Princess Maria and Latin Emperor Henry involved garments, jewellery, luxuries and fineries, among other riches, carted into Constantinople on 60 animals covered with red velvet “long enough to sweep up the dusty roads between the two capitals.” The feasts and rituals for this wedding lasted 8 days (, “Dynastic Marriages”).

Because marriages were arranged, there was a lot of heartbreak. Torn from love, or forced into a marriage absent of love–was a huge problem in the medieval ages. Though separation of couples was tolerated, there was no legal divorce; however, marriages between those too closely related could be annulled.

The concept of “courtly love” began in the 1100s, originating in France. This was a code of behaviour which was perpetuated through literature, poetry, and any other expression of romance. It evolved into stories of chivalry, courtly love, passion, and tales of knights. Troubadours played a large part in spreading the word of courtly love; later, these stories were written down by clerics, aristocrats, musicians, and court scribes–to be forever imprinted in history.

“Romantic poetry and prose emphasized the ennobling power of love, the concept of “passionate,” or inextinguishable love, and the elevation of the beloved woman to a superior position over her male suitor. This was a dramatic change in the cultural attitude toward noble women, though common women were still viewed mostly as property during the Middle Ages.”

Omda history: (2001).


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This entry was posted on March 27, 2012 by in MIDDLE AGES and tagged , .


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