The Courtship And Marriage In The Elizabethan Era

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The Elizabethan Era, also known as the reign of Queen Elizabeth, was considered the “golden age” of English history because it encompassed the English Renaissance, a movement that introduced literary and musical works. In addition to this, the English Reformation, a religious settlement between the Protestants and the Catholics, popularized the purpose of religion. Although the Elizabethan Era represented a modern age of artistic expression and innovation, courtship and marriage was simply perceived as a business deal and nothing further. Marriage was an excuse for men to achieve a higher status in wealth and for women to obtain a partner to bear children with. It was adamant in this time period that love did not coincide with marriage. This …show more content…
Peasants were generally free to choose their partner and were often influenced by their parents and neighbors. However, the upper class were refrained from choosing their spouse because the decision was dominated by their parents. Parents usually searched for a spouse that shared the same financial and family class status because it represented financial security for the couple. This phrase, “Love, or being in love, was not given much consideration” (Hinds, 45) represented the mentality of the nobility considering that their marriages were arranged. Rare cases in which the individual was able to choose their own spouse occurred only if their parents were deceased, or if they were not tied to their parental inheritance. Secret romances and affairs were also rare and strictly forbidden because the punishment consisted of banishment and imprisonment. Opportunities for upper class individuals to meet their spouse were arranged by the parents, usually on the day of the marriage. In contrast, opportunities for peasants to meet their potential spouse included bundling (the process of a courting couple having sexual intercourse in the woman’s bed), dancing at village gatherings, and the exchange of love sonnets. In order for peasants to marry, both spouses had to possess their own independent household and prove that they were financially stable to raise a family. Thus, both the peasant and upper nobility classes were …show more content…
Once the ideal partner was found by the parents, the groom expected a dowry which usually included a marriage bed, utensils, linens, and a healthy cow from the bride before the marital relationship could be official. Since both spouses usually owned property before marriage, the bride was not obligated to provide large estates in the dowry. In order to symbolize the financial bond between the bride and groom, couples of the nobility usually exchanged marriage rings during the official marriage ceremony. Diamond marriage rings grew popular during the Elizabethan Era and they were strictly worn on the third finger, referred to as the ring finger, of the left hand. The marriage ring is worn on this distinct finger because a vein originates from the fingertip to the heart which embodies the bond between the spouses. Since people believed that the ring represented such a deep connection, they kept it preserved for safekeeping and passed it down to further generations. Although love was never considered a factor when arranging two individuals together for marriage, parents hoped that the arranged relationship would blossom into a romantic one after marriage. For this reason, upper class individuals would acquire marriage rings with interlocking bands designed with inscriptions of romantic phrases. Rings consisting of three to eight interlocking bands made of either

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