By John R. Gillis
The background of marriage is usually regarded as an evolution from chilly, impersonal preparations to new, extra affectionate and egalitarian types of conjugality. For greater, For Worse, the main complete remedy to this point of the heritage of marriage in an immense Western society, provides a considerably diversified viewpoint on either previous and current marriages. utilizing clean proof from renowned courtship and marriage ceremony rites because the seventeenth century, John Gillis argues that love used to be by no means totally absent some time past and that the passage of time has on no account produced an ideal conjugality at the present time.
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Extra resources for For Better, For Worse: British Marriages, 1600 to the Present
The weddings of ordinary folk have left no trace because they were oral transactions, celebrated by the people themselves, whose witness and subsequent memory of the events constituted the sole basis for a marriage's legitimacy. Among the Anglo Saxons, the first step involved obtaining permission from the bride's kinsmen. Once this was accomplished, the groom and his people offered to the bride's guardians a series of sureties called weds that guaranteed that the bride would be maintained and protected.
Valentine presents his gifts labelled only with "St. "59 Rank was similarly ignored in the "lifting" or "heaving" traditions associated with Easter Monday and Tuesday, which date from at least the thirteenth century. On the Monday groups of men went about seizing women, threatening to lift them in a chair unless bought off with a small gift. In some places, they stole the women's shoes, forcing them to buy them back with money or a kiss. 60 The tradition was most entrenched in the Midlands, where one later witness reported he had seen "men run long distances, climb walls, etc.
Promises made in private were regarded as having little worth as compared with those before witnesses. Vows accompanied by tangible gifts had more weight than words alone. Even with regard to sexual relations, early modern people preferred a degree of publicity which seems to us, who tend to equate privacy with sincerity, a form of indecent exposure. We are shocked by the way John Cotgreve and Alice Gidlowe conducted themselves on a midsummer evening in 1549. It had apparently been a festive day and, as Cotgreve and his mates walked Alice to her home in Saltney, Cheshire, John asked her to make love with him in an empty house along the way.