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Wedding practices >> Chaucer

Posted: Thu Mar 19, 2009 11:16 am
by lidimy
We're doing The Merchant's Tale at the minute in English Lit. It's great! :D

Line 647: May retires to 'hire chambre' for four days? after the consumation of their marriage. The comment is 'as usage is of wives for the beste.'

What practice is this? are there any other sources which describe something like this? Why did they do it?

Or is it purely a literary device to get May out of the way for a while?

edit: more detail added to the custom, lines 673 - 684...

I tried googling, but oddly, a keyword search of 'medieval sexual practices' isn't getting me very far... :lol:

Thanks everyone (:

Posted: Thu Mar 19, 2009 11:25 am
by The Methley Archer
I can only comment on my own wedding weekend of being closeted in our hotel room for three days after the event... :D

.... we had food poisening from a dodgy chinese the night before the wedding :cry:

Re: Wedding practices >> Chaucer

Posted: Thu Mar 19, 2009 1:35 pm
by Colin Middleton
lidimy wrote:I tried googling, but oddly, a keyword search of 'medieval sexual practices' isn't getting me very far... :lol:
Obviously your filters aren't doing their job, it would get me kicked out of the building! :wink:

I'm afraid that I know more about birth than marriage, so can't help much. Have you tried a library? There's bound to be a good book on the subject.

Posted: Thu Mar 19, 2009 2:27 pm
by Marcus Woodhouse
Try "The Yorkist Age" amongst others.

Posted: Fri Mar 20, 2009 1:15 pm
by m300572
See if you can get hold of Reay Tannahill's "Sex in History" - can't remember how detailed it is for this period but the bibliography may give you a few pointers - its about 25 years since it was published though so it may not be bang up to date with current research.

Posted: Fri Mar 20, 2009 2:46 pm
by lidimy
Now that's truly screwed the school filter... :lol:

Thanks for the book refs though!

Posted: Fri Mar 20, 2009 4:46 pm
by Marcus Woodhouse
I have a copy. Medieval Women in England has some information about it, not the one you have but the one I still have. It doesn't really have much about lower classes, but then marriage was more "informal" for them-you told everyone you were married, maybe the priest gave you a blessing, you went home worked, went to bed after doing some work, got up and worked.

No change there. :cry:

Posted: Fri Mar 20, 2009 6:40 pm
by lidimy
Is that the Henrietta Leyser one?

I can't imagine anyone would approve if a working lady decided to take 4 days off after childbirth. Particularly not the cows with udderfulls.

I did look through the contents of your Medieval Women, but as you say, it has nothing, which is a shame really!

Posted: Fri Mar 20, 2009 10:03 pm
by Marcus Woodhouse
Chaucer isn't writing for working people though Lidi. he's writing for the highly educated and largely female court of King Richard II when the notion of chivalric love is just becoming a potent social force within such circles.
I doubt he could give a flying fig about what the peasents got up to as long as they kept tilling the fields and paying their taxes.
As far as I'm aware it wasn't neccessary to get married in Church, as long as you had witnesses to confirm that you both agreed to get married you didn't even need to be in the same room, or even the same country. You could send along a "sub" to take your place-Lorenzo D' Medici did that when he got married because he was frightened to leave Florence and go to Rome due to the political scence. He sent his uncle who "slept" with his new wife to symbolically show the marriage was consumated. Uncle Gio even had his own wife and daughter to confirm that everything was above board.
Happy days.

Posted: Fri Mar 20, 2009 10:59 pm
by Theotherone
Sorry if this is a slight Cuba, but didn't marriages used to take place at the church door/gate with people (sometimes) going in for Mass? and weren't there two forms of "marriage"/exchange of vows future tense (sort of I will) and present (I do)?

Posted: Fri Mar 20, 2009 11:06 pm
by narvek
I have a book on the love&marriage in medievil period at home, I'll check the author after getting there, but I believe it was something along the lines Leah Otis-Cour.

Not bulletproof sure though.

edited the name, this one is correct. Found the book, english name is:
Lust and Love: A History of the Couple in the Middle Ages

Posted: Sat Mar 21, 2009 9:14 pm
by lidimy
BTW I don't know why I started tot alk about childbirth?? sorry...

Marcus - I only picked up on the uneducated people theme because you had mentioned it and I thought it rude to question... I think that as far as this goes the peasants should be left happily and irrelevantly tilling fields!


In The M's Tale they get married in a church (: though I didn't think that would make any difference if this 4 day rest period is a 'usage/custume'?

Maybe the church wedding is just to drive home the sanctity of their marriage before chaos descends....

Posted: Mon Mar 23, 2009 2:00 pm
by Colin Middleton
Theotherone is right. You're married outside the church (at it, not in it) and then proceed inside as a couple for the marriage to be blessed and a service.

The 'inside' could be a translation error.

Posted: Mon Mar 23, 2009 2:13 pm
by Marcus Woodhouse
Pg 96-120 (Chapter 5) Medieval People by Eileen Power.
Pg 93-142 (Chapter 6) Medieval Women by Henrritta Leyer.
Pages 1-126 (first four chapters) Women in Medieval Society P. Goldberry.

Posted: Thu Mar 26, 2009 2:49 am
by behanner
I don't have time at the moment to try and track down the specific answer to the original question or clarify what everyone else said but for the original poster you should look in the book Love and Marriage in the Age of Chaucer by Kelly.

Posted: Thu Mar 26, 2009 3:31 pm
by Marcus Woodhouse
Or even the biography of Chaucer-he even gets married in it (which is nice.)

Posted: Thu Mar 26, 2009 4:15 pm
by narvek
Marcus Woodhouse wrote:Or even the biography of Chaucer-he even gets married in it (which is nice.)
The one by Derek Brown?

Posted: Thu Mar 26, 2009 5:30 pm
by Marcus Woodhouse
Peter Ackroyd.

Posted: Fri Mar 27, 2009 4:44 pm
by lidimy
Cool, I'm chasing up all the refs! Thanks!