21 July 2013

Welcome to History Lovers Grand Tour and Scavenger Hunt

My stop on the 

For my hop of the tour featuring some wonderful historical authors, I shall be discussing dating -- a comparison to what readers experience everyday and how the manners of romance were handle in times past.

How vastly courting rituals have changed through the ages. . .

Courting in the Middle Ages was very different for a lady of noble birth than for the women of today.  Social mores that governed how a couple met, the manner in which they formed an engagement and later wed, dictated much of her life, and often with small or no input of her desires and choices.  For the reader not well versed in a particular period, it’s important to mentally step back and not to judge actions and thoughts of characters of periods past by today’s standards.  Centuries ago, females were often wed at twelve years of age, something that would be considered child abuse by today’s rules.  At age twenty-five she was an “old maid” and considered beyond the age of marrying.  You have to remember people didn’t live as long.  When we think of “old” we are considering people in their sixties and seventies.  In ancient times, people for the most part were lucky to make it to age forty, thus a woman in her twenties was already an older woman halfway through her lifetime.

As that age perspectives shift, you see a change every couple of generations in the mating rituals.  Today, many couples openly live together for years before taking the steps to marriage vows.  Just a few generations past, this would have been scandalous, taboo.  When Ingrid Bergman had an affair with Italian director Roberto Rossellini in the 1950s, while both were married to other people, and later gave birth to his son, it caused such a scandal that she was denounced on the floor of the United States Senate.  Ed Sullivan even refused to have her on his show!  When she left her husband and daughter, going to live in Italy with Rossellini, she was barred from entering the US to act and had to remain in Europe for a number of years.  Yet, such behavior is common place now and barely raises an eyebrow.  Look at the long romance of Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn.  He was married to Season Hubley when he began his affair with Hawn.  They have now lived together for decades, yet never married.  No one gives it a second thought.

In the 1950s, women stayed home to raise their families.  A wife going to work outside the house was a slur against her husband.  What’s wrong, can he not support her?  At the turn of the previous century, women seldom went out to live on their own.  They remained with their families until they were properly courted and wed, going from father’s to husband’s control without ever knowing how to live life on her own.  The further you go back into history, the tighter control you see of women, what they could and couldn’t do.  Few could own property.  They had no control over money they might inherit, and were often considered nothing more than property of their husband.  In the 19th century, women didn’t go out for dates.  In fact, if she danced with the same man more than twice at a ball of the ton, society would expect him to offer for her hand in marriage the next morning, or she would be ruined!

Shed all you knowledge of how women live today, and take that step back to consider obstacles women faced in finding a husband in Medieval times.   The average commoner rarely traveled outside his own village.  They were born, lived and died, literally tied to the land, chained there because they were mere vassals of the local lord.  Consequently, a woman of low birth was forced to find a mate amongst the slim pickings of local lads, or possibly a cousin not too far away.  It’s estimate they rarely traveled farther than the nearest village, even fewer went over fifty miles away.  Women of higher birth were not quite as limited.  They generally were sent to other castles or keeps at a young age to be fostered, much in the same manner sons were sent away to serve as pages and squires.  Therefore, they did have the opportunity to meet young men outside their own fiefdom.  Such a move was intentional, this “farming out” of daughters at young ages.  They gained strength in facing a new situation, new people, and saw how others thought and lived.  More importantly, the exchange of children was a forging of bonds between different lords.  If she were of some import, she might even travel to court, widening her circle of acquaintances even more.  Still, there was little chance of dating as we might consider it.  Young women served under the tutelage of the lady of the manor.  She spent a lot of time learning courtly ways and to manage the household, possibly she might even be instructed in the healing arts.  A young woman would spend time sewing, spinning and weaving ― an endless chore, because people had to have clothing, and everything from sheering the sheep, carding the wool and spinning it had to be done by hand.

Even if she were lucky enough to catch the eye of a handsome young squire, attachments wouldn’t have been encouraged.  A daughter was not just a child to be reared, she was an asset.  Fathers that didn’t have sons would use his daughters to make alliances.  Lord’s with sons saw the chance of obtaining a large dowry to bolster his standing.  The young girl would have little say in if she wanted to marry a man.  These marriage contracts were set up, signed and sealed when she was but a child.  Love, though much sung about by troubadours, rarely came into play in the making of a match during this period.  Sometimes, fathers had little say in the matter, too.  If the liege lord or king decided to marry off a daughter to a knight or another lord for a reward, there was no recourse.  Their liege lord’s decision on such matters was final.

If on the rare occasion, a young woman might fall for a young man, the obstacles preventing them from getting to know each other were endless.  In a castle, people were always about.  Privacy was scarce as those proverbial hen’s teeth.  There were no places to go for walks, no parks, and strolling outside the castle curtain was dangerous.  The first time a couple had the time to truly come to know each other was after they were married.

So the next time you read a historical romance don’t be too quick to judge people of the past and how they lived by your own life experiences.

© Deborah Macgilligray
All Rights Reserved, July 2013


Winner from My Blog will be chosen from those leaving a comment.  Be sure to leave an email so I may contact you.  You will win 1 copy each of my Dragons of Challonseries
 A Restless Knight, In Her Bed, and One Snowy Knight

To find the other authors on the tour

Check this Listing

Visit their pages and win even more prizes

Grand Prize
$50 Gift Card
to the
Book Retailer of Your Choice

************My guestion:  (rather simple) **********

What is the name of my Historical series???

Don't post here.


Jacquie Rogers said...

Nice post on the customs and attitudes. My guess is that there were very few "I won't marry this man!" scenarios as is popular in Romance, simply because the girls were raised with the understanding that a husband would be chosen for her and she was expected to make the best of things. Just like her mother and grandmother before her.

DelAnne said...

Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to host this part of the hop

DelAnne said...

Thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to host this part of the hop.


joye said...

Enjoyed reading the article. Really interesting information.
I am always looking for new authors to read and your books sound like the kind I enjoy reading.

Unknown said...

It is amazing how customs have changed. I am so glad we can make that choice now. I can only imagine not being able to determine if I could choose my husband.

bournmelissa at hotmail dot com

Stormy Vixen said...

Thanks for sharing your post and the hunt. I would say vastly different now than it was before.

Morton4 said...

Thank you for having a hop on the tour I enjoyed reading your artical. I however could not find your question that we need to answer for the hunt. Could you please tell me what it is? Thank you, Sonja Morton

Jennifer Mathis said...

great post but i didnt see the question im suppose to find the answer for the scavenger hunt did i miss it ?

Deborah Macgillivray said...

Sorry, my copy and pasted missed the last part. Check the bottom of the page for how to enter.

Unknown said...

As a Medievalist I often think about how I wouldn't want to visit the Middle Ages and how lucky we have it as women to pick our own partners, etc. I still find reading about courtship through the ages to be very interesting.

jessdeluna at yahoo dot com

Anonymous said...

I love the description of your series! I am new to your books, so thank you for sharing them with your readers. I love to discover new-to-me author and their books. I would love to read and review one of them! Sent you the answer to your question! nlaverdure88@videotron.ca

Deborah Macgillivray said...

Jess, I can so agree with those feelings. I love the period, have a deep understanding of the times, but loving it doesn't mean I would wish to go back there. I love my A/C, my computers for research, and I would definitely not want someone to tell me who I had to marry! :-D

Deborah Macgillivray said...

Nicole, Good Luck. I am giving away the three Medieval novels as a prize for the contest, and will pull a name from the posters here and they will get a set as well.

Thank you!