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Historical Renaissance Wedding Information

A few interesting facts, at least to me, about Renaissance weddings:

Marriage laws evolved during the Renaissance. The Council of Westminster decreed in 1076 that no man should give his daughter or female relative to anyone without priestly blessing. Later councils would decree that marriage should not be secret but held in the open. But it wasn’t until the 16th century when the Council of Trent decreed that a priest was required to perform the betrothal ceremony.

Separation of couples was tolerated, but there was no legal divorce, though betrothals between those too closely related could be annulled. This made me wonder, did they not know they were closely related when they got married in the first place?

Grooms, on average, were 14 years older than their brides. Three out of four women were married before they were nineteen years old.

We read a lot today about the aging population but during the Renaissance over 50% of the population was under twenty years old.

Marriages were not allowed to be performed during certain times of the year such as Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost.

Grooms had to pay a “deposit” at the time of the betrothal, and if he tried to back out of the agreement it would cost him four times the amount of the deposit. How’s that for a guarantee?

The husband usually promised between one third to one half of their estate to their bride. This was to ensure her standards of life in case he died.

In the Middle Ages, the Catholic church did not require any clergy to be present during the betrothal ceremony.

In some parts of Europe, during the  Middle Ages, the ceremonies were called “handfastings”. In one of these ceremonies the couple would exchange vows. Sometimes the vows were as simple as “Will you marry me?”. Gifts were exchanged during the ceremony.

These handfasting ceremonies did not take place in a church. They could be held most anywhere, in the parent’s home of either the bride or the groom, outside or most anywhere else.

After the handfasting ceremony, the couple would go to the church to have the union blessed, or the priest would stop by the house and bless the wedding there.

Later, the Catholic church would decree that the ceremony must have clergy there in order for it to be valid.

Nuptial Masses made Sunday the traditional wedding day. The couple would follow a procession to the church and the women would sit on the left side and the men would sit on the right (My theory on how this tradition got started is that the man wouldn’t ask for directions on the way to the church, so they got lost, had a fight and didn’t want to sit together. Just my theory but it seem logical to me).

During the ceremony four unmarried women would hold a silk cloth (called a “Pall”) over the bride while she was blessed. This “Brides Blessing” could only happen once in her life.

These wedding were not, for the most part, out of love. They were the result of negotiations between families. This meant that there were written and signed agreements and contracts outlining exactly what each family was to receive as a result of the wedding.

The “humanism” started during the Renaissance. Shakespeare’s works with couples really falling in love was a relatively new concept at the time.

If you happened to come from nobility then who you were going to marry was usually decided before you were a teenager, usually around the age of ten. The actual ceremony would be held five or six years later. Nobility had a lot of power and property and the purpose of these marriages was to allow both families to continue their quest for wealth.

Marriages across social classes just didn’t happen. Nobility married nobility.

A touch of “Swan Song” and a dash of “The Stand”…Very good post-apocalyptic tale in the mode and mood of R. McCammon’s “Swan Song” and S. King’s “The Stand”. ★★★★★

Excerpt from Troop of Shadows:

Colleyville, Texas

Dani cursed the weight of her backpack. The final two items from the ransacked Walgreens, crammed in as an afterthought ten minutes ago, might cost her everything. After surviving the last twelve months of hell only to be thwarted now by a can of Similac and a twelve-pack of Zest soap, would be sadly anticlimactic. Despite running at a full sprint down a dark suburban street, dodging overflowing garbage cans while eluding three men who would steal her hard-won tubes of Neosporin and likely rape and kill her in the process, she snorted at the thought of a fictional headline: Young Woman’s Life Ends Tragically but Zestfully Clean.

Damn it, she would ditch the backpack. She could come back tomorrow night for it, but right now staying alive outweighed any future benefit its contents might provide. As her pursuers rounded the corner behind her, she darted across the front lawn of a house and leaped over a cluster of dead juniper shrubs. A year ago, those shrubs had been green, manicured, and providing curb appeal to the upscale neighborhood; they functioned now as a hurdle component in the obstacle course Dani navigated on most nights.

She angled toward the side of the house and around the corner, only to come to an abrupt stop next to a six-foot barricade. Residents of these sprawling bedroom communities situated between Dallas and Fort Worth clung to their privacy fences as fiercely as their rural counterparts did to their firearms. Why all those day-trading dads and cheerleader moms required such secrecy was beyond Dani. She didn’t care. All that mattered was how difficult they made her nightly forages. Only idiots or people with a death wish traveled alone on the streets anymore. The clever ones navigated through backyards and drainage ditches, shadowed easements and alleyway, avoiding open spaces and other humans.

Especially humans traveling in groups.

Stealth and caution were second nature to her now, and she was pissed at herself for loading up the backpack with more weight than she could easily carry at a full run.

Rookie mistake.

She flung the pack into the undergrowth of a once meticulous garden, making a mental note of the enormous red tip photinia which camouflaged the bundle in a leafy shroud. She hoped to be alive the next day to retrieve it.

She clambered up the fence, finding a toehold on a warped plank, and squirmed over the top. A silver fingernail of a moon did little to illuminate the backyard. Weak starlight reflected off the inky surface of a half-empty, kidney-shaped swimming pool. Her Nikes gripped the concrete deck as she skirted the murky water and made a beeline for the back of the yard that was, of course, separated from its neighbor by a privacy fence. It was a tall one too — a full ten feet. There were no bushes or trees to use for leverage either. She scanned the area for anything that might serve as a step ladder.

Of all the yards she could have chosen for her escape, she’d picked one with a damn ten-foot fence.

Her heart raced from the sprint, but not from panic. Gone was the young woman from a year ago, the full-time floundering college dropout and part-time surly Starbucks barista who spent too much time reading books and not enough time looking for a job that would allow her to move out of her parents’ house. She was too smart for her own good, everyone had told her. She should have taken that secretarial position in North Dallas, but she would have lost her sanity in that environment. The tedious filing, the ringing phones, the office politics — in other words, hell on earth for a girl with an IQ over a hundred and fifty.

Despite the recent horrors, she’d come into her own at last, after twenty-one years of meandering through life unfocused and unchallenged. The extra twenty pounds she’d been carrying courtesy of Freddy’s cheeseburgers and Taco Bell burritos were gone, thanks to her newfound self-discipline and endless hours of Krav Maga training with Sam. Not only had she transformed her body, she’d elevated and strengthened her mind as well. Before the power had gone out, she’d watched countless tutorials on T’ai Chi, Qigong, and Buddhist meditation. During that same window — when people were beginning to get sick, but before most of them had died — she’d combed book stores and libraries within a fifteen-mile radius. When the country went dark and people realized that life-saving information was no longer available with a few keystrokes, Dani had amassed reference material on subjects as diverse as hydroponics and combat first aid, ancient meat drying techniques and bomb making. Between martial arts lessons with Sam, she spent every spare minute absorbing the printed esoteric knowledge like a greedy lizard on a sun-drenched rock.

Knowledge was survival.

When the first of the men slithered over the fence into the backyard, she hadn’t found anything to use as a foothold. Another figure followed behind him. She closed her eyes, took a deep breath and released it from her lungs, slow and measured, then took off at a full run toward them. While she ran, fingers slid down to a leather sheath secured to her belt. Two seconds before she reached the first of her would-be assailants, a Ka-Bar — the grandaddy of tactical knives — was in her hand.

Dani used momentum and every ounce of her one-hundred-twenty pound frame to slam the first man into the second, knocking both assailants off-balance and unprepared for her next move: a vicious stab to the groin of the first. He collapsed to his knees. She followed with a backhand movement, opening up the throat of his companion. A similar gesture to the man with the injured groin silenced his moaning.

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