Marriage and children in the Middle Ages

At the dawn of the Middle Ages, marriages in Europe were influenced by Roman and barbarous traditions. Thus, Roman law legalized early marriages – from the age of 12, but until the end of the Middle Ages, the marriage age in Europe increased by several years. Traditions of the barbarians, unlike the ancient, allowed marriages between relatives, and forbade them between free and slaves.

The conversion of European peoples to the Christian faith has changed the marriage relationship. The church sought to ensure that marriages were voluntary, public, strong and, of course, ecclesiastical. She condemned adultery and strongly recommended that the lay people think seven times before marrying.

There was no conjugal equality in medieval Europe. Although medieval poets also sang of female beauty and gentleness, but in everyday life to women, men were treated scornfully. How can this be explained? First, in medieval Europe, which was shaken by war, physical strength and military

courage were most valued. Secondly, because of the constant threat of famine and the loss of family property in the women’s ability to give birth, children were seen not so much good as evil. Thirdly, the church was overdone, which assured believers that their troubles were caused by the disobedience of “the progenitor of Eve.”

XV century. From the book by Christina Pizanskaya “On the City of Women”

For men who are fighting against women because of their bodily deficiencies, a weak and painful body, and the mind is sophisticated and evil. They do not find another way to ease the pain of their infirmity, except how to displace it on women…

Out of envy, women are attacked by those men who… realized that many women are smarter and nobler than them…

As for those men who out of pleasure make up vain words, it is not surprising that they slander women, for in general they say evil things about everyone… Anyone who openly slanders women does it… contrary to reason and nature. Contrary to reason, because it shows great ingratitude: the benefits

of women are so significant that no matter how hard he tries, he could never do without them, constantly needing the services of women. Contrary to nature, because there is not a single creature… that would not love its females, and it would be completely unnatural for a reasonable person to do the opposite.

Children were loved and cherished, especially boys. But they were treated like little adults. Somewhere since the age of eight, peasant children have already helped parents manage their household. The boys were sometimes enrolled in school, but most often they were sent for training to a master. Girls were rarely given to school by well-off parents. At the age of 14-15 years, the children themselves earned their living.

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Marriage and children in the Middle Ages