Marriage in the Renaissance and Shakespeare's As You Like It

1507 Words 7 Pages
Marriage in the Renaissance and As You Like It

The concept of marriage has been considered to be a sacred and traditional part of life since the beginning of relationships between human beings. The rules of these intimate relationships were set up in accordance with church law. Such rules consisted of the conventional/typical marriage and the ritual of marriage (ceremony). William Shakespeare examines the customs of marriage practice of the Renaissance time period in his work As You Like It.

Marriage at the time focused on a heterosexual relationship between a man and woman. Kirsti S. Thomas, explains that marriage did not concern the true love element that exists in the typical marriages of today. At the time of
…show more content…
Age was not an important factor, since it was usually an arranged marriage. An unknown source specializing in Renaissance weddings discusses this by stating, "The groom's average age is at least fourteen years older than their brides...Noble women were generally married off before they were nineteen. For a woman not to be married over the age of twenty-four was rare" (5). This has been confirmed in a number of other sources as well. William Steams Davis defines the age gap: "If the girl is not married by the age of twenty-one, there is no hope for her, save for a nunnery or an old maid. She will find no recognized place in society whether in a castle, city, or peasant hut" (98). The incidence of the dowry had its influence as well. G.G. Coulton cites a journal entry dating back to the Renaissance era. "...Item; the priest of Lucy exacteth from each woman 13 pence; even though the child die before the churching, he will not church the mother until she pay 13 pence" (83). In some cases, the groom had to pay the dowry. If he got cold feet and did not go through the ceremony, the payment cost four times as much, according to an unknown source concentrating on Renaissance wedding customs.

The ritual of marriage (the ceremony) had its differences compared to today's traditional standards. An unknown source on the web specializing in Renaissance culture, "... Sundays were established