Author Topic: Medieval Child Marriage in Tudor Times  (Read 770 times)

Offline WillowG

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Medieval Child Marriage in Tudor Times
« on: Wednesday 15 August 18 16:26 BST (UK) »
Richard of Shrewsbury (one of the Princes in the Tower) married the 5-year-old Anne de Mowbray, 8th Countess of Norfolk, who had inherited the vast Mowbray estates, when he was about 4 years old.

(Much later) painting of the event here:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anne_de_Mowbray,_8th_Countess_of_Norfolk#/media/File:The_Marriage_Of_Richard_Of_Shrewsbury,_Duke_Of_York,_To_Lady_Anne_Mowbray.jpg

Another historical example I know of is Margaret Beaufort, Henry VII's mother. The marriage probably took place when she was about seven. Under canon law, Margaret was not bound by the marriage contract as she was entered into the marriage before reaching the age of twelve, and the marriage was later dissolved.

Does anybody know if there was a 'usual' age for this? Would the child have to be able to talk (these were arranged marriages of course), or would a signed contract do?

Offline stanmapstone

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Re: Medieval Child Marriage in Tudor Times
« Reply #1 on: Wednesday 15 August 18 16:44 BST (UK) »
The position was that a valid marriage required the couple agreeing to the matrimonial contract. To understand the nature of their union they had to have reached an age of rational consent. From time immemorial it was accepted that a child of seven could make a rational decision and so the age for matrimonial consent was fixed at seven years. However, it was not until puberty, 12 for girls and 14 for boys, that fruitful union was possible.
However in many cases it seems that the lower age of seven was disregarded even by the Church, which only went so far as to say that babes in arms should not be given in marriage unless there was an urgent need such as the desire for peace, not only internationally, but even between disputing landowners. A Canon emanating from the 1175 Council of Westminster stated those 'who espouse infants to each other in the cradle do nothing, unless they both consent when they arrive at the years of discretion.... where there is no mutual consent there is no marriage.' 
The whole subject of marriage laws is a complicated one.

Stan
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Offline Skoosh

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Re: Medieval Child Marriage in Tudor Times
« Reply #2 on: Wednesday 15 August 18 19:15 BST (UK) »
Don't think there were any mediaeval child marriages in Tudor times. The Battle of Bosworth supposedly ended that age!

Skoosh.

Offline Viktoria

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Re: Medieval Child Marriage in Tudor Times
« Reply #3 on: Wednesday 15 August 18 20:44 BST (UK) »
Well Margaret Beaufort was married to Edmund Tudor at about twelve  or thirteen.
She quickly became pregnant and gave birth when still only thirteen.
It was such a difficult birth she was never able to have more children(for which I imagine she was extremely thankful given the damage she had sustained.)
Henry Tudor was supposedly born 1457 and his mother supposedly in 1441 making her
16 ,But it has always been held she was much younger.
Babies were betrothed as has been stated ,for political advancement.,but the actual marriage was later even though  a marriage by proxy had taken place.
Girls of noble families were just goods to be bartered.
        Viktoria.



Offline Skoosh

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Re: Medieval Child Marriage in Tudor Times
« Reply #4 on: Wednesday 15 August 18 20:59 BST (UK) »
Tudor Times = 1485 to 1603!  Katherine of Aragon was betrothed aged 3.

Skoosh.

Offline WillowG

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Re: Medieval Child Marriage in Tudor Times
« Reply #5 on: Wednesday 15 August 18 22:28 BST (UK) »
The position was that a valid marriage required the couple agreeing to the matrimonial contract. To understand the nature of their union they had to have reached an age of rational consent. From time immemorial it was accepted that a child of seven could make a rational decision and so the age for matrimonial consent was fixed at seven years. However, it was not until puberty, 12 for girls and 14 for boys, that fruitful union was possible.
However in many cases it seems that the lower age of seven was disregarded even by the Church, which only went so far as to say that babes in arms should not be given in marriage unless there was an urgent need such as the desire for peace, not only internationally, but even between disputing landowners. A Canon emanating from the 1175 Council of Westminster stated those 'who espouse infants to each other in the cradle do nothing, unless they both consent when they arrive at the years of discretion.... where there is no mutual consent there is no marriage.' 
The whole subject of marriage laws is a complicated one.

Stan


Thank you so much! This is just the information I was looking for :)

Thank you everyone who has replied!

In this case they were 'married by agreement dated 20 Sept. 1528', but were both under the canonical age of consent of 12 on the 2nd of June 1530, when her father wrote his will.

Allso I will that if the mariage solemnised and had betwene [...] be dyssolvid by reason and disag^r^e(-)ment of either of them at their laufull age of consent or by reason of dethe of the same [...] and before carnall knowledge had betwene them that then the said Anne shalhave towardes hir mariage one thousand poundes sterling as hir other susters shalhave

The marriage had clearly not been consummated yet and they were probably not cohabitating.

Their eldest child was born around 1540-1.

I am trying to figure out her probable birth year, and this is very helpful, thank you.