Marriage and family in the Middle Ages

In the Middle Ages, marriage was considered a family affair and was in charge of the church. This guardianship consisted in the attempt of the church to control the conclusion of marriages.

Marriage was considered legal if the young and their families performed a special ceremony of betrothal, orders for a dowry of the bride, announcing the date of the wedding, consecration of the marriage by the priest in the presence of witnesses. The church forbade marrying monks, and since the XI century. – and the Catholic priests. The marriage with students, soldiers or servants was not approved until they get their own business – the source of the future family’s income.

As a rule, both urban and rural girls got married at about 16 years of age. It used to happen that the bride was younger, and late marriages were also not a curiosity. For example, a Florentine merchant could issue a daughter to her husband at 24 years of age. Usually, the husband was older, sometimes

for 20 years or more, because at the time of the marriage he had to have the means to provide for the family. The woman, getting married, received a dowry. His size depended on the well-being of her family.

Family ties in everyday life were very important, because they provided support for all relatives. This was especially evident in the church sphere. Relatives and friends of some families for many generations occupied the seat of the abbots and bishops in different monasteries and bishoprics.

In the medieval family, the head was a man. He had unlimited power over all its members, but at the same time had to defend and defend their mores and interests outside the family. As it should be understood, the husband fought or worked in the yard, the workshop, the field, and the wife worked in the house, first of all she prepared food and sewed clothes. The Christian church taught that a wife should obey her husband. And she obeyed. She often worked equally with a man, and did business after his death.

In every family, many children were born – up to ten or more. However, not all survived, in

most cases two or three. In the usual medieval family there were mostly five or six people.

Boys and girls were brought up in different ways. The girl remained in the mother’s care until the wedding. In the family, she received a certain education and learned to do all the homework. Boys since seven years were trained in parental craft. Everything depended on the family they came from: the feudal lord, the merchant, the artisan, the peasant.

Children were sometimes used as witnesses in court cases. For example, when it was necessary to restore the boundaries of ownership, interested persons went around the fields and led children or adolescents, who were beaten from time to time. It was believed that so the child would better remember the terms of the agreement and be able to tell about them in court if necessary.

The word of the witness was then believed more than the records in the document, since the population was mostly illiterate.

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Marriage and family in the Middle Ages