Early medieval marriage


#1

So, I was having a bit of insomnia the other night and happened to catch the “Montel” show at about 4 am. He was talking to “polyamorous” groups and attempting to defend their situation as normal and acceptable. He mentioned, without any support, that up until 400 years ago, marriage was “for a year and a day.” If after that time period, you wanted to leave and marry someone else, you were free to do so, regardless of any children produced. Now, this struck me as being a rather ridiculous statement to make, because if this were a universal practice pre-1600, it would be common knowledge. I know I’ve never heard of it. Does anyone out there know of any cultures that actually practiced this and when they practiced it? He made it sound as though it were a normal, Christian, European custom, and used it to back up his point that those attempting to defend “traditional marriage” are defending a sham. I’d never really watched the show before, but that episode was enough to convince me that the man is seriously misled and misleading. Still, his comment made me curious.


#2

Jesus tells us how it should be, and that was 2000 years ago…


#3

[quote=Jayson]Jesus tells us how it should be, and that was 2000 years ago…
[/quote]

And I agree with the Christian model of marriage. I’m just wondering, out of historical curiosity, where Mr. Williams got this “a year and a day” thing.


#4

Kristina,

This is a reference to the pre Christian practice of hand fasting among certain Celtic tribes which could be a provisional bond and one made secretly. After Christianization, both the Church and the state vigorously attempted to suppress it since the possible lack of permanence and the ease of repudiating a clandestine wedding were offense to both moral law and social stability. One result was the development of the requirement of the presence of a priest who actively assisted in the public celebration of wedding. This requirement became more rigorously applied about 400 years ago. Today we call it “canonical form.”

Do a Google search on the term “year and a day.”

Montel Williams is playing fast and loose with historical truth.

This is often the case of those who seek to normalize what we recognize properly as deviance. Margaret Meed, for example, cooked her data in the study of sexual and marital practices among the natives of New Guinea toward a similar purpose. Unfortunately, her deceit was only unmasked posthumously.

For two thousand years though, there has been some sort of legislation to regulate marriage in Western culture.

Monogamous, permanent marriage has been normative in most situations, even when a culture permitted divorce, as in Roman, Greek or Jewish culture. The practices encouraged on this TV show have been viewed as aberrant.


#5

[quote=cameron_lansing]Kristina,

This is a reference to the pre Christian practice of hand fasting among certain Celtic tribes which could be a provisional bond and one made secretly. After Christianization, both the Church and the state vigorously attempted to suppress it since the possible lack of permanence and the ease of repudiating a clandestine wedding were offense to both moral law and social stability. One result was the development of the requirement of the presence of a priest who actively assisted in the public celebration of wedding. This requirement became more rigorously applied about 400 years ago. Today we call it “canonical form.”

Do a Google search on the term “year and a day.”

Montel Williams is playing fast and loose with historical truth.

This is often the case of those who seek to normalize what we recognize properly as deviance. Margaret Meed, for example, cooked her data in the study of sexual and marital practices among the natives of New Guinea toward a similar purpose. Unfortunately, her deceit was only unmasked posthumously.

For two thousand years though, there has been some sort of legislation to regulate marriage in Western culture.

Monogamous, permanent marriage has been normative in most situations, even when a culture permitted divorce, as in Roman, Greek or Jewish culture. The practices encouraged on this TV show have been viewed as aberrant.
[/quote]

Thanks very much for the information. I had no doubt that Montel was “playing fast and loose” as you put it, but I just wondered if what he said had any historical basis at all.


#6

I recall reading that it was not uncommon during the early middle ages, for couples to spend time before fomally marrying in a sort of “trial”. If the woman did not become pregnant, they were not bound to marry. I got the sense that it was to make sure the pairing was fruitful.

I read this a few years ago, if I can find the source, I will supply it.
This was among peasants, informal and without the sanction of the church, just a custom in some areas.

cheddar


#7

Here is a link I found while doing a google search, marriage a year and a day

florilegium.org/files/LIFE-STEPS/Scot-marriage-msg.html


#8

[quote=Faustina]Here is a link I found while doing a google search, marriage a year and a day

florilegium.org/files/LIFE-STEPS/Scot-marriage-msg.html
[/quote]

Thanks. I also came across similar stuff. So, not only was this man being misleading about just how many people practiced this, he didn’t bother to do his research as to whether they even did practice it. Hopefully, most of the other viewers were as skeptical as I.


#9

Cameron, Margaret Mead’s work was entitled ‘Coming Of Age in Samoa.’


#10

[quote=yinekka]Cameron, Margaret Mead’s work was entitled ‘Coming Of Age in Samoa.’
[/quote]

Ah yes. Thanks for the correction!


#11

[quote=Kristina P.]And I agree with the Christian model of marriage. I’m just wondering, out of historical curiosity, where Mr. Williams got this “a year and a day” thing.
[/quote]

I could theorize about from where he pulled it, but I don’t think the moderators would appreciate me doing so.

– Mark L. Chance.


#12

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