Courting and dating rituals 1400 1600

Because the bourgeoisie often tended to ape the social customs of the aristocracy, the aristocratic ways of marriage also applied to them.

For the aristocracy, marriage was usually an arranged affair, often from a very early age.

Because adult mortality was so high, however, the couple's average marital duration was usually less than twenty years and so the concept of a life-long marital state was perfectly acceptable.

In an average village, about a third of the female population were widows or spinsters. Only about a third of the population was married at any one time.

Country dances compelled circulation of partners and prevented pairing off.

For most of their youth, both sexes avoided intimacy.

Indeed, in the majority of cases high mortality rate ensured that parents were probably not living by the time that their children married.

For men it would usually be in their late 20s, for women in their mid-20s.One, however, needs to differentiate between the aristocracy and bourgeoisie, as opposed to the country peasants and city artisans.Generally speaking, when we think of courtship and marriage, we think of it as it applied to the aristocracy.Courtship and marriage, today often a simple procedure, was then a complex social drama that was played out in public.Because the household was the central unit for production and reproduction, it was essentially a public affair, regulated by public mores.

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