Medieval Romance for MenIn medieval times, men were supposed to be the primary support of their family, and the primary defender. That is not to say the woman was a weakling and helpless! She would tend the garden, care for the house, raise the children and often have a side business to bring in extra money - making clothes, making pottery, and so on.
Women had a 1/5 chance of dying in childbirth or as a result of the after effects of childbirth. Only 40% of children in medieval times survived past the age of 10. Bearing a child and raising a child was both rough on the body and rough on the spirit. Men definitely wanted children to survive them and carry on their legacy. So finding a woman who was strong, healthy, vibrant and able to build a family was critically important.
Like most other cultures and most other eras, what attracted a man to a given woman was a combination of traits which primarily focussed on health. The clear skin, bright eyes, fertile breasts, long hair and other "indicators of health" all told the man that this woman would be able to bear and raise a family for him.
In addition, keep in mind that a person who made it to adulthood had a long life to look forward to. The average man lived to age 65. Chaucer died at age 60. Marriage was a life long commitment and a man would want a partner in life that he could depend on and truly enjoy his time with. He would want someone who matched his personality and interests in life.
There were many festivals and faires for men and women to mingle and flirt, to get to know each other. At dances and musical events the couples would pair off and enjoy their time together. When the man was ready to propose, he would often talk with the father to prove he was capable of supporting the woman and protecting their children. In return, the father would often offer a dowry to thank the future son-in-law for these efforts.
Things got far more complex for the noble born. When a noble man married, he was not just bringing a woman into his household - he was melding his family line with the girl's family line. This was a very serious event in days when merged families controlled large tracts of land, vast incomes and nobility titles. Read below to learn more about how nobility - both men and women - had to be very practical when it came to marriage.
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