History of courting dating england

Eric Rasmussen explains the complex process of getting married in Shakespeare’s England, and the way this worked for young Will himself.

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.

opens with Egeus demanding that his daughter Hermia either marry Demetrius, the husband he has selected for her, or be put to death; while Hermia remains steadfastly committed to Lysander, the prospective husband that Given the newfound prominence of mutual attraction, lovers began to manifest concerns about the proper ways to ‘woo’ a mate.

Juliet worries that Romeo, having overheard her protestations of love for him, will think she’s ‘too quickly won’ and offers to play hard to get if need be: ‘I’ll frown and be perverse and say thee nay, / So thou wilt woo.’ Indeed, since men were generally the wooers, the issue of female agency in the process was complicated, as Helena complains in Juan Luis Vives insists that, when it comes to choosing a husband, maidens should keep quiet: ‘it becometh not a maide to talke, where hir father and mother be in communicacion about hir mariage’, 1557.

Before the custom was outlawed in 1754, tens of thousands of ‘Fleet marriages’ were solemnized.

William Shakespeare’s marriage serves as a fascinating example of an expedited wedding.

Unfaithful wives were harshly judged, while philandering men received far milder social stigma.

In 1582, 18-year-old Will was romantically involved with Anne Hathaway, eight years his senior.

Late that November, the two obtained a special license to marry, two of Anne’s neighbors paid £40 to certify that the wedding was lawful, the banns were read once, and the couple were officially wed less than two weeks after they received the licence.

It’s not clear whether this bequest was an insult, implying Anne’s subordinate place in his affections, or a tender reminder of matrimonial bliss.

In either case, the behest needs to be seen in the somewhat complicated context of the legal doctrine of , which declared that a property-holding woman who married became ‘covered’ by her new husband.

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