History Podcasts

How did marrying off one's daughter help secure an alliance, in early medieval Europe?

How did marrying off one's daughter help secure an alliance, in early medieval Europe?

Marriage between royal family was often a way to secure / strengthen an alliance between two monarchs. For example, according to Wikipedia

Marriage between dynasties could serve to initiate, reinforce or guarantee peace between nations. Alternatively, kinship by marriage could secure an alliance between two dynasties which sought to reduce the sense of threat from or to initiate aggression against the realm of a third dynasty

I wonder, how this would work from the point of view of the dynasty that supplied the princess? For example, if you marry off your daughter, and she lives in the other monarch's family, of course it will somewhat restrain you from attacking them. But how does this guarantee (or at least increase the confidence) that the other monarch will not betray you? If anything it seemed the daughter can be used as hostage, a bargaining chip, or even mistreated by the other monarch in future conflicts.

Such marriages were usually part of wider treaties, including a dowry, non-aggression and/or mutual support agreements. The king didn't just get a queen, he got a chunk of land, possible inheritance rights, not to mention preventing his enemies making the same pact with his wife's family. Foreign princesses were mistreated - Catherine of Aragon after Prince Arthur's death, and when Henry 8 divorced her, but I suspect the possible advantages of your daughter/sister being Queen of a foreign power outweighed, in terms of realpolitik, any potential abuse.

Amusingly, when Christiana of Denmark was offered the chance of marrying Henry 8, she replied that, had she two necks, the King of England would have been welcome to one of them!

If anything it seemed the daughter can be used as hostage or a bargaining chip

That could be an option if the sides were not on the equal terms. Say, if you have to show your loyalty to the conditions of some peace treaty after an unsuccessful war, then sending such "a hostage" may save you a couple of fortresses. After all, girls need husbands.

On the other hand, if you are on equal terms, then by this marriage you make another monarch to owe you. And this could be of much help, say, if you have both a daughter and a son.

But how does this guarantee (or at least increase the confidence) that the other monarch will not betray you?

Such marriages may also be the part of formal treaties between countries. And at the very least, just the fact of marriage effectively cancels out any previous casus belli.

If your daughter is the mother of the monarch's children, that would inhibit most monarchs from attacking you. After all, you're the children's grandparent (and monarch's parent in law). And the monarch hopes that his children will inherit from you, as well as him.

Not to mention the likely impact of "pillow talk." Unless the daughter hates you for some reason.

Several of the other answers have hit this, but I'm going to put the same idea in a slightly different way.

If I marry my daughter to the prince of FarOffIstan, then there is a chance that my grandchildren will rule the country. It is in my best interest to ensure that FarOffIstan is strong and prosperous. My daughter's husband's father shares that same interest.

For societies that conceive of wealth as land, marriage is quite literally an investment - deferred short term benefits will reap rewards for our descendants. (alternatively, think of it as a reverse tontine… ) Both families will observe each other and measure how committed the other party is to the welfare of the Grandchildren. Both parties should fight & struggle to improve the future value of the investment.

Of course if either of the couple dies before the grandchildren are able to rule, there is the risk that the family of the surviving child will need to secure new investors (so to speak). If there is a grandchild, then a Regency council may preserve the value of the investment; if there is no grandchild, then all that effort has been wasted.

How did marrying off one's daughter help secure an alliance, in early medieval Europe? - History

Louis XVI, although highly educated and intellectually gifted, was seen by his contemporaries and is largely remembered as an individual of unimaginative and indecisive personality.

Learning Objectives

Recall Louis XVI’s childhood and describe his character

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • Louis XVI (1754 – 1793), born Louis-Auguste, was King of France from 1774 until his deposition in 1792, although his formal title after 1791 was King of the French. During his childhood, Louis-Auguste was neglected by his parents who favored his older brother, Louis, duc de Bourgogne. Considered brighter and more handsome than his little brother, Louis, duc de Bourgogne died at the age of nine in 1761.
  • A strong and healthy but very shy Louis-Auguste was an intellectually curious and gifted student. Upon the death of his father, he became the new Dauphin. The strict and conservative education he received from the Duc de La Vauguyon, however, did not prepare him for the throne that he was to inherit in 1774.
  • In 1770, at age 15, Louis-Auguste married 14-year-old Habsburg Archduchess Maria Antonia, the youngest daughter of the Holy Roman Emperor Francis I and his wife Empress Maria Theresa of the Habsburg dynasty. The French public was hostile towards the marriage that confirmed the Franco-Austrian alliance.
  • Over time the couple became closer, although their marriage was not consummated until 1777. The created a strain upon their marriage and the failure to produce children alerted the French public.
  • When Louis XVI succeeded to the throne in 1774, he had an enormous responsibility as the government was deeply in debt and resentment of “despotic” monarchy was on the rise. While none doubted Louis’s intellectual ability to rule France, it was quite clear that, although raised as the Dauphin since 1765, he lacked firmness and decisiveness.
  • Historians note the king had a rather dull personality. In addition to the extreme lack of decisiveness demonstrated by his decisions regarding both domestic and foreign policies, he has been described as quiet and shy but also conventional and unimaginative.

Key Terms

  • Dauphin: The title given to the heir apparent to the throne of France from 1350 to 1791 and 1824 to 1830.
  • Seven Years’ War: A world war fought between 1754 and 1763, the main conflict occurring in the seven-year period from 1756 to 1763. It involved every European great power of the time except the Ottoman Empire, spanning five continents and affecting Europe, the Americas, West Africa, India, and the Philippines. The conflict split Europe into two coalitions, led by Great Britain on one side and France on the other.
  • parlements: Provincial appellate courts in the France of the Ancien Régime, i.e. before the French Revolution. They were not legislative bodies but rather the court of final appeal of the judicial system. They typically wielded much power over a wide range of subject matter, particularly taxation. Laws and edicts issued by the Crown were not official in their respective jurisdictions until assent was given by publication. The members were aristocrats who had bought or inherited their offices and were independent of the King.

Louis XVI: Childhood

Louis XVI (1754 – 1793), born Louis-Auguste, was King of France from 1774 until his deposition in 1792, although his formal title after 1791 was King of the French. Out of seven children, he was the second son of Louis, the Dauphin of France, and thus the grandson of Louis XV and Maria Leszczyńska. His mother was Marie-Josèphe of Saxony, the daughter of Frederick Augustus II of Saxony, Prince-Elector of Saxony and King of Poland. During his childhood, Louis-Auguste was neglected by his parents who favored his older brother, Louis, duc de Bourgogne. Considered brighter and more handsome than his little brother, the eldest son died at the age of nine in 1761.

A strong and healthy but very shy Louis-Auguste excelled at Latin, history, geography, and astronomy, and became fluent in Italian and English. Upon the death of his father, who died of tuberculosis in 1765, the eleven-year-old Louis-Auguste became the new Dauphin. His mother never recovered from the loss of her husband and died in 1767, also from tuberculosis. The strict and conservative education he received from the Duc de La Vauguyon, “gouverneur des Enfants de France” (governor of the Children of France), from 1760 until his marriage in 1770, did not prepare him for the throne that he was to inherit in 1774 after the death of his grandfather, Louis XV.


In 1770 at age 15, Louis-Auguste married 14-year-old Habsburg Archduchess Maria Antonia (better known by the French form of her name, Marie Antoinette), the youngest daughter of the Holy Roman Emperor Francis I and his wife, Empress Maria Theresa of the Habsburg dynasty. The French public was hostile towards the marriage. France’s alliance with Austria pulled the country into the disastrous Seven Years’ War, in which it was defeated by the British both in Europe and in North America. By the time Louis-Auguste and Marie Antoinette were married, the French people were generally critical of the Franco-Austrian alliance and Marie-Antoinette was seen as an unwelcome foreigner.

For the young couple, the marriage was initially amiable but distant. Over time, the couple became closer, although their marriage was not consummated until 1777. The royal couple thus failed to produce children for several years after their wedding, which created a strain upon their marriage. The contemporary French public fervently debated why the royal couple failed to produce an heir for so long, and historians have tried to identify the cause of why they failed to consummate their marriage for years. Eventually, in spite of their earlier difficulties, the royal couple became the parents of four children.

Louis XVI at the age of 20, by Joseph Duplessis, ca. 1775.: Louis’s indecisiveness and conservatism led some to view him as a symbol of the perceived tyranny of the Ancien Régime and his popularity deteriorated progressively, despite the king’s many decisions triggered by his desire to be loved by the public.

Louis XVI’s Personality

When Louis XVI succeeded to the throne in 1774, he was 19 years old. He had an enormous responsibility as the government was deeply in debt and resentment of “despotic” monarchy was on the rise. He felt woefully unqualified to resolve the situation. As king, Louis focused primarily on religious freedom and foreign policy. While none doubted Louis’s intellectual ability to rule France, it was quite clear that although raised as the Dauphin since 1765, he lacked firmness and decisiveness. His desire to be loved by his people is evident in the prefaces of many of his edicts, which often explained that his actions were intended to benefit the population. He aimed to earn the love of his people by reinstating the parlements. When questioned about his decision, he said, “It may be considered politically unwise, but it seems to me to be the general wish and I want to be loved.” Louis XVI believed that to be a good king, he had to, in his own words, “always consult public opinion it is never wrong.”

Historians note the king had a rather dull personality. In addition to the extreme lack of decisiveness demonstrated by king’s decisions regarding both domestic and foreign policies, he has been described as quiet and shy but also conventional and unimaginative. His interest in locksmithing and carpentry as well as commitment to deepening his education (he had an impressive library) were seen as hobbies that he was more passionate about than about ruling France. Even the long period when the royal couple did not produce children was interpreted in light of Louis’s unimpressive personality. Contemporary pamphlets mocked the king’s perceived infertility and inability to satisfy his wife, who in turn was accused of extramarital affairs.

Restoring stability to England

In 1120 England was twenty years into the reign of the Conqueror’s son Henry I. Henry was famous for being an intelligent and learned man, and after wrestling the throne off his older brother Robert he had proved to be an effective ruler who had stabilised a kingdom still growing accustomed to Norman rule.

In 1103 a son and heir was born, and Henry, despite being a younger son of the Conqueror, appeared to have started a stable and successful dynasty that could rule over England for many years to come.

The boy was named after his fearsome grandfather and despite being called “a prince so pampered that he would be destined to be food for the fire” by one chronicler, he ruled England while his father was away in the last year or so of his life, and did so well with capable advisers surrounding him.

In 1119 he was married to Matilda of Anjou in a strong dynastic match which secured the borders of King Henry’s continental possessions (despite her being only eight years old at the time) and he seemed to be the perfect heir.

With so much resting on the shoulders of this young man, his pampered childhood seems understandable in an age where children died very easily, and the trauma his death caused further illustrates how important it was to have a line of succession secure in Medieval Europe.

2. She was fierce, passionate and strong-willed

Margaret was fifteen years old when she was crowned queen consort at Westminster Abbey. She was described as beautiful, passionate, proud and strong-willed.

Indomitability ran in the blood of the women in her family. Her father, King Rene, passed his time as a prisoner of the Duke of Burgundy writing poetry and staining glass, but her mother struggled to establish his claim to Naples and her grandmother governed Anjou with an iron fist.

Eleanor of Aquitaine and the Court of Love

Eleanor’s time as mistress of her own lands in Poitiers (1168-1173) established the legend of the Court of Love, where she is reputed to have encouraged a culture of chivalry among her courtiers that had far-reaching influence on literature, poetry, music and folklore. Although some facts about the court remain in dispute amidst centuries of accumulated legend and myth, it seems that Eleanor, possibly accompanied by her daughter Marie, established a court that was largely focused on courtly love and symbolic ritual that was eagerly taken up by the troubadours and writers of the day and promulgated through poetry and song. This court was reported to have attracted artists and poets, and to have contributed to a flowering of culture and the arts. But to whatever extent such a court existed, it appears not to have survived Eleanor’s later capture and imprisonment, which effectively removed her from any position of power and influence for the next 16 years.

Bible: Child Marriage in Ancient Israelite times – Paedophilia?

In Biblical times people were married at a very young age. Girls were usually betrothed before they reached puberty – majority of the time the marriage would have consummated when the girl reached puberty, and that was usually between the ages of 8, 9 or older,(Note: when a girl reached puberty prior to the 20th century, she was considered to be an adult in most cultures/societies). In this article I will mostly quote Scholarly sources to prove that marriage in ancient Israelite times took place at a very young age, sometimes the girls who were married off were pre-pubescent. There was no law against a pre-pubescent girl being married off. Actually as you will read further, you will come to realise that the Mishnah gave approval for a Man to have intercourse to a betrothed girl, any-time after the age of three years old.

Isaac’s wife was Rebecca, mother of Jacob, and Esua. According to calculations made by Rabbi Solomon Itzhaki (A.K.A. Rashi a well-known respected Jewish Scholar), Rebecca was three years old when she married Isaac.

1. Rashi’s commentary on Genesis 25:20 says:
forty years old: For when Abraham came from Mount Moriah, he was informed that Rebecca had been born. Isaac was then thirty-seven years old , for at that time Sarah died, and from the time that Isaac was born until the “Binding” [of Isaac], when Sarah died, were thirty-seven years, for she was ninety years old when Isaac was born, and one hundred and twenty-seven when she died, as it is stated (above 23:1): “The life of Sarah was [a hundred and twenty-seven years.”] This makes Isaac thirty-seven years old, and at that time, Rebecca was born. He waited for her until she would be fit for marital relations-three years-and then married her.— [From Gen. Rabbah 57:1
[Retrieved it from this website: http://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/8220/showrashi/true ]

2. Also Johann Buxtorf cites Rashi that Rebecca was three years old when she married Isaac.

Rabbi Solomon in his comment on Genesis, says that Rebecca, when she was married to Isaac, was but three Years of Age. His words run thus, ‘When Abraham was come from Mount Moria, he received the joyful News of Rebecca. Isaac was at that Time Thirty seven years old and then did Sarah die. The time, from birth of Isaac to the death of Sarah, was Thirty seven Years, And Sarah was Ninety Years old when Isaac was born and One Hundred and Twenty Seven Years old when she died: As it is said in Gen 23:1 . Sarah was one hundred and twenty-seven years old. Behold, the Age of Isaac was Thirty Seven Years, at the Time of the Birth of Rebecca. And when he had waited for her three Years, till she was fit for marriage, he took her to wife.”
According to this Account, Rebecca was a very notable Girl at three years of age. But that a girl of three Years old is fit for marriage, is maintained very plainly in the Jewish writings particularly, in Emek Hamelech, in the following passage, ‘our blessed sags, of blessed memory, say, that a female is not fit for marriage, ‘till she is arrived at the Age of three years and one day.’ The Talmud supports these Sages here, in the part entitled Avoda Sara. And the Sanhedrin says, A daughter, who is of the age of three years and one day, is, by being bedded with a Man, lawfully married.[1]

Before going any further, one of the objections raised by some Jewish and most Christian Apologist is that they say, “how can a three year old fetch water out of a well?” They further say, “a girl of that age could not do that she must be a lot older than three.” These statements do not disapprove anything. The way they make it seem, as if it is impossible for a girl to pull 1, 2 letters of water. Any three old girl could pull 1, 2 letters of water out of a well.

3. In addition to what we have already brought forth on Isaac’s marriage to Rebecca, The Zohar, which is Translated/Commentary by Daniel Chanan Matt also makes mention that Isaac married Rebecca when she was three years old.

51. “She was three years old when he embraced her the youngest legal age a female can be-married. See M Niddah 5:4 Seder Olam Rabbah 1 Soferim, add. 1:4 Rashi on Genesis 25:20 Tosafot, Yevamot 61b, s.v. ve-khen sekhe Tov, Genesis 24:14.
Rebekah’s three years correspond to the three colors of the rainbow.
52. He engendered at sixty, generating fittingly… see Genesis 25:26. When Isaac fathered Jacob he was sixty years old, symbolizing the full sextet of sefirot from hesed through Yesod, thereby ensuring that Jacob would be complete. [2]

As you have read it is quite clear, a fact that Rebecca married Isaac when she was three years old. Furthermore, we have more evidence from Judaic Holy Book ‘Mishnah’, it gives more weight to the above references that girls as young as three years old were allowed to be betrothed by intercourse at the age of three. Although in Ancient Hebrew marriages girls were recommend to be married at the age of 12, there are laws in the Mishnah that give approval that once betrothed you can have sexual intercourse any-time after the age of three years old.

4. Jacob Neusner is an American academic scholar of Judaism. In the Book: ‘The Comparative Hermeneutics of Rabbinic Judaism: Seder Tohorot. Tohorot through Uqsin.’ The Jewish oral Torah i.e. Mishnah states,

M. 5:4 A girl three years and one day old is betrothed by intercourse. And if a Levir has had intercourse with her, he has acquired her. And they are laible on her account because of the law [Prohibiting intercourse with] a married woman. And she imparts uncleanness to him who has intercourse with her [when she is menstruating] to convey uncleanness to the lower as to the upper layer. [If] she was married to a priest, she eats heave offering. [If] one of those who are unfit [for marriage] has intercourse with her, he has rendered her unfit to marry into priesthood. [If] one of all those who are forbidden in the Torah to have intercourse with her, he is put to death on her account, but she is free of responsibility. [3]

5. A Commentary on the above verse, in the Book: ‘A history of the Mishnaic Law of Purities. 15. Niddah. by Jacob Neusner, it says:

M. 5:4-5 bring us to the next stage in the matter of the legal status of children, female and male. The girl three years and one day old is deemed capable of sexual relations, which accounts for A, B, and C. D. Presumably should not apply to M. 5:3-a if the girl is unclean as a menstruant but is incapable of sexual relations, one who has (or attempts) relations with her is not made unclean as is one who has had sexual relations with a menstruant. E simply goes over familiar ground since the girl can be acquired as a wife, she also may eat heave-offering. F. Follows, and G. Repeats what is already obvious. But H limits the matter. The girl is not held responsible in a matter of forbidden sexual relations. I is a minor gloss. If the girl is less than three years and one day old, we do not regard the sexual relationship as of legal consequence. The theory is that the tokens of Virginity are restored before that time but not afterword. [4]

6. The Anglican Priest Herbert Danby in the Book: ‘The Mishnah: Translated from the Hebrew with Introduction and Brief Explanatory notes.’ It says that a girl of three years old and one day could be betrothed by the brother’s husband and he can have intercourse with her.

A girl three years old and one day may be betrothed by intercourse her deceased childless husband’s brother can acquire her by intercourse and by connexion with her a man can be culpable by virtue of the Law of a married woman and him that has connexion with her [while she is a menstruant] she renders unclean so that he conveys uncleanness to what is beneath him in like degree as [he that has a flux conveys uncleanness] to what lies above him’ if she married to a priest she may eat of Heave-offering if one that is ineligible has connexion with her he renders her ineligible for marriage with a priest if any of the forbidden degrees prescribed in the Law had connexion with her they are put to death on her account, but she is not culpable. If she is younger than this, it is as one that puts a finger in the eye.” [5]

7. Edward Hendrie also echoes the same statements made previously

“Orthodox Judaism has a very permissive attitude towards sexual deviance. For example:Sanhedrin 55b: It is permitted to have sexual intercourse with a girl three years and one day old. See also Yebamoth 57b, 60b Abodah Zarah 37a.
Kethoboth 11b: When a grown-up man has intercourse with a little girl it is nothing, for when the girl is less than three years old it is as if one puts the finger into the eye, tears come to the eye again and again, so does virginity come back to the little girl under three years.” [6]

8. Professor Joshua A. Fogel in his book: ‘Reading Tractate Avodah Zarah of the Babylonian Talmud.’ He says the: ‘tumah of a zav’ is when it happens that is when a boy is ready to cohabit. The Hebrew word ‘zav’ means, In Torah terminology, the Hebrew word zav (lit. “flow”) is a state of ritual impurity arising from abnormal seminal discharge from the male sexual organ” (see Wikipedia.com). Here is what is said,

“The orevious daf ended with R. Yehudah ha-Nasi accepting the view of R. Chiyya that an idolater conveys the tumah of a zav from the nine years and one day (not just one day). When asked about this age, he replies that this is the age at which he is able to cohabit and thus convey the tumah of a zav. If nine seems on the young side, it’s three for girls. In other tractates of the Talmud, these ages, especially for a girl, become extremely relevant, such as in determining what constitutes rape or marriage by cohabitation I mentioned in here only because how shockingly young it seems to my (and probably most) 21st century eyes. It is Ravina who argues for age of three for girls, rather than from birth which was put forth by Rav Nachman bar Yitzchack on the previous daf. Ravina contribution is to match age cohabitation with age of zav (or niddah) tumah capacity.” [7]

“Among the ancient Hebrews, betrothal by sexual intercourse was permitted with girls aged three years and day, and marriages for girls was actually recommended at 12 years of age. The Biblical woman and child were property, not persons. For the right to marry a pre-pubescent girl, one simply had to pay an agreed sum to her father. In India, child marriage was condemned by law until 1929, although around 80 per cent of the population was still practicing it.” [8]

“The possession of Children by their parents was also given religious sanction in the teachings of both the Talmud and the Bible. Rush (1880) states that the Talmud teaches that a girl of ‘three years and one day’ could be betrothed through an act of sexual intercourse.” [9]

11. Professor Geza Vermes who is well-known and a respected scholar comments that Pre-pubescent girls were allowed to be married.

“…the Greek parthenos could also mean that the girl was young and/or unmarried. In fact, in the Septuagint translation of the Old Testament parthenos was used to render three distinct Hebrew words, ‘Virgin’, ‘girl’ and ‘young woman’. Already Rabbis in the Tannaitic era (first to second century ad) subscribed to further nuances, and there is no reason to think that all these were invented by them. Even the word betulah, which normally means virgo intact, when used by them could carry the laternal sense of bodily immaturity with the consequential inability to conceive. In Rabbinic terminology this type of virginity in a woman ceased with the physical onset of puberty. The Mishnah, the oldest of the rabbinic codes, defines a virgin as a female who ‘has never seen blood even though she is married’ (mNiddah 1:4). The Tosefta, another early Jewish code of law, claims in the name of Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrcanus (late first century ad) that such a woman would continue to count as a virgin even after she had conceived and borne children without prior menstruation (tNiddah 1:6)! To understand these statements, we must remember that in the InterTestamental and early rabbinic age, pre-puberty marriage was generally permitted . In fact rabbis seriously debated whether bloodstains found after the wedding night in nuptial bed of a minor, i.e. a ‘virgin in respect of menstruation’, marked her first period or the consummation of the marriage.” [10]

12. Reverend Kathryn J. Riss also makes mention that in first century parents married off their daughters who were pre-pubescent to much older men. What is interesting is she does not mention once that Rabbis or anyone higher up in authority speaking against such marriages.

“The longest New Testament passage on marriage is found, not in Ephesians, but in 1 Corinthians chapter 7. In stark contrast to the legal positions and social expectations of the first century, here the rights and responsibilities of man and woman are upheld as equal. Although marriages were arranged by parents, who often espoused their pre-pubescent daughters to much OLDER MEN…[11 ]

13. Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament, by G. Johannes Botterweck, Helmer Ringgren and Heinz-Josef Fabry it states,

“One might counter that the expression mohar habbetulot (Ex. 22:16[17]) refers rather to the pretium virginitatis. In this case, the mohar would be compensation to the girl for the loss of her virginity. This explanation, however, is unacceptable, since it proceeds on the assumption that the term betula means ‘virgin.’ This may doubtlessly be the case in many passages, but in joel 1:8, betula thus refers to a married woman who had been ‘possessed’ by her husband (ba’al) betula thus refers to a marriageable girl who was physically able to cope with a man, ‘taking her into his possession.’ Here the term betula says nothing about her virginity. Ex.22:16 (17) (kesep yisqol kemohar hab betulot) can thus be translated ‘he shall weigh out as much silver as is required for marriageable girls.’ In this context we should point out that ancient Hebrew custom did not associate marriageability with puberty. In contrast to the marriageable girl (betula), the…. Alma refers to a girl in puberty capable of conception. Girls could in fact already be given marriage long before actual physical maturity, perhaps even as young as five years old (cf. Lev. 27:5), and it did happen that marriages were already consummated with prepubescent girls. [12]

“A more common practice was the marrying off of minor daughters by their fathers. For instance King Agrippa(s) (41-44 C.E.), left three daughters: ‘of these, one, Berenice, who was sixteen years old, was married to Herod, her father’s BROTHER, and two were unmarried, namely Mariamne and Drusilla, aged respectively ten and six years. They had been promised by their fathers in marriage, Marriamne to Julius Archelaus, son of Helkias, and Drusilla to Epiphanes, the son of Antiochus, King of Commagene’ (Josephus, XIX Antiquites, 9. 1. 354). In such cases, marriage and consummation would be postponed until the BRIDE REACHED PUBERTY: it was held proper to marry off a minor daughter with her consent and not against her will. However, these rules were not only applicable to a minor daughter given in marriage by her father, since his right to do so is expressly mentioned in the Torah (Exodus XXI 7 Deuteronomy XXII 16).” [13]

“In the Hebrew Bible and New Testament, marriage is considered the natural state for men and women, and although there are certainly instances where Jewish men (and rarely, Jewish women) are not married, this is the exception rather than norm. Most women marry quite young, usually soon after the onset of menstruation, which of course, heralds fertility. Men typically marry later (in their twenties, or even thirties) and this most men are older than their wives.” [14]

“BC. The good book of Genesis says that after a few generations Abraham’s progeny had grown to sizeable numbers. That is understandable, considering the practice of multiple wives and marriage just after puberty for girls. Abraham’s many sons could father thousands of children, considering ample girls available from the natives of Canaan.” [15]

17. Encyclopedia of the Jewish Diaspora: Origins, Experiences, and Culture, Professor Mark Avrum Ehrlich writes:

“Girls were often married to their uncles on their father’s side, or to their cousins, in order to secure the family’s capital and in the hope that their kin would take good care of them. Minor girls were betrothed by their fathers (by Kidushin, a legally binding commitment) even before they came of age, and usually began living with their husbands-occasionally much older than them- at the age of puberty.” [16]

18. Respected Rabbi Isaac Klein in his book: ‘A Guide to Jewish Religious Practice’, says that Child marriages were common and that ‘age was not the factor’ when someone had to get married. So in other words no matter what the age of the girl, once the parents gave the go ahead, the girl had to choose the husband, she had no choice in the matter.

Child marriages were very common in ancient days. Since marriages were arranged by parents and the consent of parties was not necessary, AGE WAS NOT THE FACTOR in coming to an agreement. The physical factor related only to the consummation of the marriage. Hence, there was usually a waiting period between the agreement and the consummation. It is logical to assume that when a boy and a girl reached the age of puberty, and the sex urge demanded satisfaction, ancient society deemed marriage to be the answer. In time, other elements became factor in marriage: climate, social conditions, economic conditions, and even political conditions.” [17]

19. Old Testament Scholar Gordon Wenham

“In reality social custom and pressures greatly curtailed the sexual freedom of men in the Bible times. First, marriages were customarily arranged by parents, as soon as children passed puberty. This meant that there were few unattached girls: most females of marriageable age were either married or betrothed….” [18]

20. David M. Carr Professor of Old Testament

“…ancient Israelite women did have to deal with a constant stream of pregnancies, from when they reached puberty in their teens until they died in their twenties or thirties.” [19]

“A typical adult Israelite male had a life expectancy of forty years. Infant mortality rates were high, perhaps as high as 50 percent. So women typically had two pregnancies for every one child who reached age five. Since the economic survival of the household depended on the production of able-bodied children, women married immediately after puberty and were pregnant or nursing for a relatively large portion of their life.” [20]

“In the early twentieth-century, Iranian Jewish women married at a very young age, either when they reached puberty or by their fifteenth year or sixteenth birthday. Similarly, Jewish women living in Ottoman Libya were married once a girl reached puberty and under Italian rule, ‘women married when they reached their fifteenth or sixteenth birthday, but at times, the brides were much younger.” [21]

23. Steven M. Lowenstein Professor of Jewish History

“The next great life cycle event in Jewish life after the bar Mirzvah is marriage. In most traditional societies (Jewish and Non-Jewish), marriages were arranged between families, with only the most perfunctory consultation with the couple to-be, and often involved complex financial arrangements such as dowries and trousseaus. In the middle ages the age at marriage seems to have been around puberty throughout the Jewish world. …” [22]

“The numerous references to child marriage in the 16th- century Responsa literature and other sources, shows that child marriage was so common, it was virtually the norm. In this context, it is important to remember that in halakha, the term ‘minor’ refers to a girl under twelve years and a day. A girl aged twelve and a half was already considered an adult in all respects.” [23]

“A few anecdotal incidents, and a wealth of later documentation, suggests that women married young, while still in their teens, sometimes early teens, in fact men waited until well into their twenties or even early thirties before marrying.” [24]

“Persian Jews married off their children very early: boys at ten or twelve, and girls at the very tender age of six or seven. Some girls were mothers by age twelve or thirteen. Polygamy was practiced only by men who could afford more than one wife. It was common for a prepubescent girl to marry a man who was old enough to be her grandfather.” [25]

27. Professor Harvey E. Goldberg

“Habbani Jewish ‘women’ were almost always prepubescent at their first marriage. Their first husbands were often in their late teens. Normally, there was neither bride price nor dowry, but a groom was expected to provide wedding jewelry and seven goats for the wedding festivities. The jewelry became a woman’s property. Occasionally, the bridegroom was far older than the bride.” [26]

28. Jonathan B. Krasner says that betrothal took place at the age of eight or nine, now keep in mind earlier we provided evidences that once a girl was betrothed the husband can engage with her sexually:

“Betrothal, or engagement, generally occurred at the age eight or nine. Jewish girls typically married at age eleven or twelve and boys at about thirteen or fourteen. (In Germany and France, Christian girls typically married at twelve or thirteen, and boys were usually in their late teens or twenties.)… (Marriage in Ashkenazic).” [27]

I believe who ever reads this article will agree that Judaism in past practised and allowed pre-pubescent marriages. Also, Isaac’s marriage to Rebecca, all the evidence shown is in agreement that Isaac married Rebecca when she was three years old. Whatever some Christian/Jews (modern) may say about Rebecca being older because she fetched water out of a well, they have no proof that a girl of three cannot fetch 1 – 2 litters of water out of a well. I also gave many references that the Mishnah gave approval for girls to be betrothed by intercourse at the age of three

Don’t forget to follow Discover The Truth on Facebook and Twitter . PLEASE help spread the word by sharing our articles on your favourite social networks.


Johann Buxtorf, Johann Andreas Eisenmenger, John Peter Stehelin
Rabinical literature: or, The traditions of the Jews, contained in their Talmud and other mystical writings. Likewise the opinions of that people concerning Messiah, and the time and manner of his appearing with an appendix comprizing Buxtorf’s account of the religious customs and ceremonies of that nation also, A preliminary enquiry into the origin, progress, authority, and usefulness of these traditions wherein the sense of the strange allegories in the Talmud and Jewish authors is explained. [ Publisher: London J. Robinson, 1748] Volume 1 page 33 – 34
[2] The Zohar: Pritzker Edition. Volume two, (2003) page 264 [The Zohar 1:136b] Translation and Commentary by Daniel Chanan Matt
[3] The Comparative Hermeneutics of Rabbinic Judaism: Seder Tohorot. Tohorot through Uqsin By Jacob Neusner Volume 6 [Copyright 2000] page 152
[4] A history of the Mishnaic Law of Purities. 15. Niddah . Commentary edited by Jacob Neusner page 83
[5] The Mishnah: Translated from the Hebrew with Introduction and Brief Explanatory notes Herbert Danby page 750
[6] Solving the Mystery of Babylon the Great By Edward Hendrie
[7] Reading Tractate Avodah Zarah of the Babylonian Talmud By Professor Joshua A. Fogel page 84
[8]Parenting for a Peaceful World By Robin Grille
[9]Mary De Young The sexual victimization of children page 103
[10] The Changing Faces of Jesus By Geza Vermes
[11] Journey’s End: Removing Biblical Barriers Between Women and Their Destiny By Reverend Kathryn J. Riss, THM page 164
[12] Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament, Volume 8 edited by G. Johannes Botterweck, Helmer Ringgren, Heinz-Josef Fabry [1997] page 144 – 145
[13] Introduction to Jewish law of the second Commonwealth. 2 (1978) By Zeʼev Wîlhelm Falq part 2 page 278
[14] What the Bible Really Tells Us: The Essential Guide to Biblical Literacy By T. J. Wray page 146 chapter 7
[15] Christianity’s Source: It All Came from Ancient Egypt By Harry L. Tabony
[16] Encyclopedia of the Jewish Diaspora: Origins, Experiences, and Culture, Volume 1 By Mark Avrum Ehrlich page 258
[17] A Guide to Jewish Religious Practice By Isaac Klein page 396
[18] Story as Torah: Reading the Old Testament Ethically By Gordon Wenham page 84
[19] The Erotic Word: Sexuality, Spirituality, and the Bible By David M. Carr Professor of Old Testament Union Theological Seminary In New York page 43
[20]Sabbath and Jubilee (Understanding Biblical Themes) By Richard H. Lowery page 8
[21] Saba Soomekh Between Religion and Culture: Three Generations of Iranian Jewish Women from the Shahs to Los Angeles Page 65
[22] The Jewish Cultural Tapestry : International Jewish Folk Traditions By Steven M. Lowenstein, Professor of Jewish History, University of Judaism page 108
[23] A Separate People: Jewish Women in Palestine, Syria, and Egypt in the sixteenth Century By Rûth Lamdān page 47
[24] Life in Biblical Israel By Philip J. King, Lawrence E. Stage page 37
[25] Jewish Communities in Exotic Places By Ken Blady Page 69
[26] Sephardi and Middle Eastern Jewries: History and Culture in the Modern Era edited by Harvey E. Goldberg page 267
[27] The History of the Jewish People: A Story of Tradition And Change By Jonathan B. Krasner, Jonathan D. Sarnapage volume 1 page 83

Share this:

Like this:


72 Responses »

Reblogged this on God is not Triune and commented:
Bible: Child Marriage in Ancient Israelite times – Paedophilia?

Great informative article! Thank you very much.

Besides the fact that the Bible in some places seems to suggest that some great biblical personalities did marry very young girls (such as the case of Prophet Isaac, the great ancestor of Jesus), no where does the Bible forbids one marrying a young girl (e.g of 9) that reaches puberty. If God does no where forbid or abhor it in the very time it was not only happening but the norm, who else has the right to forbid it?!

It is only the mind brain-washed by human secular traditions that finds fault with that which God never find fault with. “It is no use for them to worship me, because they teach man-made commandments as though they were God’s rules! You put aside the commandment of God and abide by the teachings of men.” (Mark 7: 7, TEV).

Thank you for reading. Great points you made.

I have been against radical ISIS type Muslims, practicing pedophilia etc. Child abuse has been around for ever and is scientifically proven to be devastating, physically, mentally and emotionally. Scientists say that the Qua ran explains how man was created. So once we are shown, that God did not physically design females for intercourse, before they are mature, we are now responsible for that knowledge. Tonight I decided to look up Israelite and early Christian’s child marriages. This was an eye opener to me. I will look into it further, however I can see this as true. How can it be physically possible for a girl of three years and one day, to be able to survive the penetration that would surely go up into her stomach and not be terribly damaged, if not dying from a hemorrhage! Genisis 1:26 Let us make man (mankind) into our image, in our likeness . . . Genesis 1:27 So God created man (mankind) in his own image, in the image of God he created them male and female he created them.

I think you should read these as well,

What does Genesis 1:26 have to do with child marriage ? ISIS ? That was made by the United States.

Reblogged this on Critical Thinking – A World View and commented:
Just more injustice and oppression from the manmade hate book called the Bible.

Wow. MashaAllah for the research. Jazakallahu khairan for sharing

Your welcome Akhi. If I have time InShaaAllah there is should be another article upcoming on Isaac’s marriage with more information.

Your sources are horrible when Abrahams servant saw Rebecca she had a pitcher on her shoulder goimg to draw water out of a well… then not only did she give the servant dring she gave his camels drink also. So yur tellin me that a 2-3yr old baby did this by herself. You are blind of the truth and trying to spread your false propaganda because you guys are a bunch of paedophiles. .. this info is not hard to find it takes 2seconds to open the book and demolish this garbage. Anyone who finds truth in this either cant read or is a babe in christ because they dont read. Point blank!

What ever the case maybe on Rebecca’s marriage with Isaac, at what age they got married, you have to remember I am only showing you evidence what Jewish Scholars have said about it. No need to get angry! BTW, hopefully when I have time on my hand, there is should be part 2 on Isaac’s marriage to Rebecca, using historical evidences. Peace

I find this a spiritual awaking of what was going on at that time, of what God allowed. Our mouths may drop in awe, our hearts spirit, soul and flesh may not understand. We cannot question the Mind of God, or understand . . . just receive it as truth of what was. (and in acknowledging) some countries still do today even though we may not like it.

Oh, . . . The person above Her name says Whitney Simon . . . not ( Houston ). Have A Great Day ! : )

Such an interesting body of research! But I don’t think her age (even if 3) would make Isaac out to be a pedophile. Consider Genesis 25:20 – “and Isaac was forty years old when he married Rebekah, daughter of Bethuel”. And now, verse 21 – “Isaac prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife, because she was childless. The Lord answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant.”. And finally, verse 26 – “After this, his brother came out, with his hand grasping Esau’s heel so he was named Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when Rebekah gave birth to them. Notice there are 20 years between verse 20 and 21. Possibly 20 years between the marriage and Isaac praying about childbirth. So perhaps intercourse did not seal the marriage in this specific case?

Where is all your proof for this? This is all a lie. Jewish culture made it a law for children to not marry unless they were 12 for girls, 13 for boys, and had parents permission. Where did you get 3 years old from? You are a liar. You got none of this from scripture. Im sorry were scholars alive 2000 years ago? What Abraham’s time? Were we alive 3000 years ago? You will be judged according to this lie on judgement day. In reality, we don’t know the ages of anyone who got married because scripture does not say. We only know that tradition made it to get married at 12 years old a minimum. In reality, Islam can marry 3 year olds right now in the year 2014. The founder of Islam, the false prophet Muhammad, married a 6 year old girl and had sex with her when she was 9. Enjoy living in your lie. I’ll enjoy living in the truth.

The proof is what I have presented from their own Holy Books. You may want to read this article again, and also check the references I have given. Besides this, here is another one from you, from the Bible.

There were 3 stages to a females life and she was PROPERTY. A “ketannah” -birth to 3 yrs. old. A “na’arah” -12-12 1/2 yrs old. A “bogeret” – 12 1/2 + 1 day and up where she was an adult. YOU need to look into the actual Jewish customs of that day. And how about King David and Abishag the Shunammite…she was a “na’arah”…between 12 to 12 1/2 years old and for her to “lie in his bosom” would have meant fornication for the KING had she not have been a secondary wife ( concubine ). Females had marriage arrangements made from birth buddy-o at that time and God did not condemn the practice. Get out of your Bible and read the Torah and do your research or does it go against your man-made precepts of girls getting married at 30 ?

Oh he’ll no dont be trying turn that shit on Islam. In our Quran it also doesn’t state Aisha s age. Omg see how these Christians be acting up they want to point fingers at a Muslim.you foolish idiot t his is even not about Islam this is about YOUR religion that you don’t know nothing about then you have audacity to speak about Islam?! Go take a sit bro

Wow you are clearly upset. Slander Islam all you want doesn’t change the facts.


Kelly No need to spew your venom here. You can debate here without getting all emotional about it. I cited Jewish Scholarly references in this article. They all believe that Isaac was 40 years old when he married 3 year old Rebekah. You’re wrong the Bible does sanction pre-pubescent marriages,

Hey Lady You Are The One Who Is Following A False Religion Based On A Book Which Has Been Distorted.Oh And Before Ranting Pedo and Perv Would You Be Kind Enough To Tell Us About The Child Abuse Committed By The Church Throughout It’s History.Or What About All The Pagan Beliefs That Have Permeated Christianity.Once We Talk About That Then We Will Find Out Who Is The Satanic Cult

Islamic scripture doesn’t promote pedophilia either. You people are bunch of liars. I’m Sunni Muslim and I know this for certain. Because, what you people do is to falsely attribute this lie to the Messenger of God which is not acceptable. And no true Muslim doesn’t practice what you’re saying.

If I would be king of Saudi Arabia, I would punish a Muslim who commits pedophilia with one hundred lashes for violating Quran 4:6

It appears (but I would have to do more research) this whole mess started when Rabbi Solomon Itzhaki (Rashi), who lived around 3000 years after the time of Abraham and Isaac, added something to the Bible that is not there which is his statement that Abraham was informed of Rebecca’s birth at Mt. Moriah. That is not in Genesis. I would also like to point out that this does not make sense in light of the fact Genesis 24 says Abraham sent his servant Eliezer to find a wife for Isaac among his relatives. Abraham clearly did not tell Eliezer to go and get Rebecca. I would offer the Book of Jasher as a more reliable witness as to Rebecca’s age when she married Isaac. According to the Book of Jasher Chapter 24 verse 40 it says Rebecca was 10 years old. I have found the Book of Jasher to be fairly reliable overall especially when it comes to ages and years when various events happened. The first half of the Book of Jasher agrees with Genesis in almost every situation. The latter part of the presently circulated copy of the Book of Jasher has some questionable stories. It does offer great insight into many stories that don’t make sense to the modern reader of Genesis. There are many things in the book that are clearly explained that while shocking can be found in Genesis only no one knows what Genesis is saying. A great example is the story of Anah. Modern translators do not even know what Anah saw in the desert (Genesis 36:24) and translates the mysteries Hebrew word as “hot springs” or “mules”. The Hebrew word is yeemim. The Book of Jasher tells an entire story about Anah and calls these strange creatures Yemim (Jasher 36:28). The story is shocking (which explains why it was mentioned in the genealogy of Genesis 36) but these creatures can be found in many ancient mythologies and in my personal opinion are most likely demonic and were widely known in the ancient world which explains why they are found in so many mythologies from different cultures and languages. I only give this example because it shows how valuable the Book of Jasher can be at finding an ancient source that helps explain and illuminate or at least gives reasonable explanations to some of the strange things that can be found in Genesis. I found around 50 unique things in the Book of Jasher that would point towards it possibly being authentic. I do not believe that the current version we have is without errors and possibly has some additions most of which are near the end of the Book of Jasher. The Book of Jasher is mentioned in II Samuel 1:18 and Joshua 10:13. Jasher means upright or righteous. So a good translation of the Hebrew phrase is the Book of the Upright/Correct Record. You can read the Book of Jasher online at: http://www.succatyeshua.nl/upload/files/The%20book%20of%20Jasher.pdf There are several apocryphal Book of Jashers in circulation. Be sure to read the correct one that I referenced above. Also, I would like to add an example of Jasher being very good at helping solve questions of age and dates. The Book of Jasher is written chronologically whereas Genesis jumps around a bit. This allows the reader to piece together interesting things that have baffled many scholars for centuries. Most of the modern scholarly world believes Abraham was born 75 years before Terah died. However, according to the Book of Jasher he was born much earlier. Genesis condenses people’s lives into stories and then throws in a genealogy. As a result scholars have taken Genesis 11:32 and Genesis 12:4 and deduced that Abraham was born when Terah was 130 years old. However, Genesis 11:26 clearly says Abram was born when Terah was 70 years old which means Abram was born 60 years earlier than most scholars believe. This means Abram lived during the time of Noah, Shem and Eber. The Book of Jasher discusses the interactions Abram had with Noah since their lives overlapped by around 60 years. According to Jasher Abram did leave Harran when he was 75 years old but this was 60 years before his father died and Abraham eventually went back to Harran for a period of time during which his father died. Keep in mind Abraham lived to be 175 years old. He moved around many times as the Bible even mentions him travelling to Canaan, Egypt and other places as well. So by mixing a genealogy with a story the scholars made a critical mistake and failed to see that Genesis 11:26 is correct and as a result it makes perfect sense that Abraham and Noah knew each other very well. One last story I found interesting was that the Book of Jasher says Abraham was thrown into a fiery furnace and survived just like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego did in the book of Daniel. I was shocked when I read this but later found out that in the Middle East many people tell this story. It makes sense they could know some things about Abraham that the western world doesn’t know since Abraham is the father of many nations. Not only did Ishmael grow into a nation or many nations but Abraham’s children through his wife Keturah also became many nations.

Hi John Giberson, thank you for your comment. Interesting you brought the Book of Jasher up, on how old Rebekkah was. I done some research on that 4 months back, but I didnt get to finish my research fully. Hopefully when I have time on my hand, I will publish part 2 on Isaac and Rebekkah’s marriage, at what age they were married. BTW, Rabbi Solomon Itzhaki (Rashi), was not the only Scholar who believed Rebekkah was 3 when married off. There are other earlier scholar(s) who believed such.

Bismillah, I did not get a chance to read all of this, the people attack Muhammad Sal Allahu alayhi wa salam about the marriage to Aisha nowadays.. It is funny because the people during his time and after who did not believe in his message, they never attacked him about the marriage to Aisha. It shows that this was normal during the time, that women were married off once they have reached the age of puberty. Some of the biblical scholars also say Mary (alayha salam) was around 12 when she gave birth to Jesus alayhi salam, but there is no proof of this from the Qur’an so it may not be true but Allah knows best.

It was normal indeed. It is only n the 20th century onwards that this started becoming an issue. Before the 20th century when a girl hit puberty she was considered to be a ‘woman’. Here, read this as well:

BTW, there is nothing in the Quran or Hadith which conflicts with Mary being married. January, this month there should be a part 2 on Isaac’s marriage released, InShaa’Allah.

Ignore those people who attack the Messenger of God, because those who say he was a pedophile(audhubillah) are really ignorant and stupid. Don’t consume your energy on fools.

Thanks a lot, you just gave me an effective weapon to fight anybody who goes against my Prophet. Thanks a million from the bottom of my heart.

First of all allow me to pray for you in Arabic
أسأل الله الحي القيوم أن يبارك لك في علمك وعملك وأن ييسر دربك وأن يبارك لك في رزقك وأن يجمعنا مع حبيبنا صلى الله عليه وسلم في جنات النعيم، جزاك الله خيراً على هذا الطرح المؤصل

Jazak Allah Khyran
I must say that I am amazed by this article, It is quite impressive. Keep up good work man .

I’d suggest you go do your own research. This guy has done nothing more than present what is equal to false Hadith and tried to pass them off as Kosha.

God must have created Eve as a baby or three year old and one day, instead of a fully grown woman as i have thought. if all the above is the norm. Its probably the reason why there were no children born in the garden of Eden, because a baby cant have a baby. It stands to reason then that Adam waited till she was three and one day for her to try to conceive. Also its no wonder Rachel died having Benjamin, Her young torn body probably wasn’t able to bear the inhuman imaginations and demands of men in her short life time. Pity…., The whole middle east is so hell bound and their minds so cluttered with thoughts of intercourse and female virginity. It must be all they discuss at the dinner table.

You forgot about Europe it was even worse in Europe , did you forget about Europe because you are a racist ? you sound like one.

You do nothing to prove Rebecca’s real age. Why not?

Interesting article. However, I’m finding that your quoting scripture is actually inaccurate. For instance, in Genesis 23:1, it actually says, ““Sarah lived one hundred and twenty-seven years these were the years of the life of Sarah. So Sarah died in Kirjath Arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan, and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah and to weep for her. Then Abraham stood up from before his dead, and spoke to the sons of Heth, saying, “I am a foreigner and a visitor among you. Give me property for a burial place among you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight.” And the sons of Heth answered Abraham, saying to him, “Hear us, my lord: You are a a mighty prince among us bury your dead in the choicest of our burial places. None of us will withhold from you his burial place, that you may bury your dead.”‭

However, your quote is significantly off. Also, if you read farther into chapter 24, you find that Isaac and Abraham did not even know Rebekah until she was older.

With such a huge discrepancy early in your article, I find it difficult to not question the integrity of the remainder of the article.

Girls were given into marriage( betrothal is the 1st stage) typical at 13 or 14 years oldwhich is the average age of enter the 4th stage of puberty.

Is there any law in these modern times to restrict the age after which a man or woman can’t marry?
If not, can he or she marry to a person who has just reached the modern time legal age, say, 16 or 18?
For example, if I am 53 year old at present and want to marry a girl of 18 years, a legal age nowadays, can any law stop me legally? Is there any country which has such laws?

The age of 18 is accepted by majority of Western countries to be a age where the male or female can choose the person whom they want to marry. As long as the person is same age, the age gap don’t affect the marriage by Law.

However, in some Asian or Arab countries, you have to be 21 for marriage. But majority of countries allow an 18 year old to get marriage to whom they like.

below 18, is not legal in some countries. Unless a court order is issued. If I remember right, UK allow for marriage to take place at the age of 16 (with parents consent), but don’t know whether there is a age gap restriction for the partner as well or do they have to be similar age for the marriage to take place? You need to look at laws for each country around the world.

Please explain how a 3 year old girl could draw water 10 camels & be allowed to venture on her own to a well .

William the Conqueror: Overview

William, the illegitimate son of Robert, Duke of Normandy, was born at Falaise Castle, Normandy, in 1027 or 1028. He was known as William the Bastard.

When his father died in 1035, William was named as his successor.

By the time that he was twenty-seven, he had earned himself a good reputation as a strong leader. He defended Normandy well from repeated attacks by the French and was feared as a military leader.

William’s Claim to England

William was a distant cousin of the English King Edward the Confessor and claimed that Edward, who had no children, had promised him the throne of England. He also claimed that when Harold Godwineson had been shipwrecked off Normandy, he had sworn to support his claim.

When Harold Godwineson was crowned King of England, William, with the approval of the Pope, began planning an invasion to take what was rightfully his.

Harold’s Claim to England

Harold was born around 1020, to one of the richest men in England, Earl Godwin. After his father’s death he became a loyal supporter of Edward the Confessor and married the daughter of the Earl of Mercia.

Harold claimed that when his ship had been blown into Norman waters, he had been taken prisoner and had been forced to support William’s claim to secure his release. He also claimed that Edward promised him the throne on his deathbed and that he was the rightful King of England.

James I and VI (1566 - 1625)

James I of England and VI of Scotland © James was king of Scotland until 1603, when he became the first Stuart king of England as well, creating the kingdom of Great Britain.

James was born on 19 June 1566 in Edinburgh Castle. His mother was Mary, Queen of Scots and his father her second husband, Lord Darnley. Darnley was murdered in February 1567. In July Mary was forced to abdicate in favour of her infant son. James's tutor, the historian and poet George Buchanan, was a positive influence and James was a capable scholar. A succession of regents ruled the kingdom until 1576, when James became nominal ruler, although he did not actually take control until 1581. He proved to be a shrewd ruler who effectively controlled the various religious and political factions in Scotland.

In 1586, James and Elizabeth I became allies under the Treaty of Berwick. When his mother was executed by Elizabeth the following year, James did not protest too vociferously - he hoped to be named as Elizabeth's successor. In 1589, James married Anne of Denmark. Three of their seven children survived into adulthood.

In March 1603, Elizabeth died and James became king of England and Ireland in a remarkably smooth transition of power. After 1603 he only visited Scotland once, in 1617.

One of James's great contributions to England was the Authorised King James's Version of the bible (1611) which was to become the standard text for more than 250 years. But he disappointed the Puritans who hoped he would introduce some of the more radical religious ideas of the Scottish church, and the Catholics, who anticipated more lenient treatment. In 1605, a Catholic plot to blow up king and parliament was uncovered. James's firm belief in the divine right of kings, and constant need for money, also brought him into conflict repeatedly with parliament.

Abroad, James attempted to encourage European peace. In 1604, he ended the long-running war with Spain and tried to arrange a marriage between his son and the Spanish Infanta. He married his daughter Elizabeth to the elector of the palatinate, Frederick, who was the leader of the German Protestants.

James's eldest son Henry died in 1612 and his wife Anne in 1619. James himself died on 27 March 1625 and was succeeded by his second son, Charles

How American Rich Kids Bought Their Way Into the British Elite

Consuelo Vanderbilt’s wedding day had finally arrived, and all of New York (and then some) was aflutter. Crowds lined Fifth Avenue, hoping to catch a glimpse of the bride on her way to St. Thomas Episcopal Church. She was quite possibly the most celebrated of all the young heiresses who captured the attention of Gilded Age Americans, and her wedding was the peak of a trend that had, in recent decades, taken the world by storm: American girls, born to the richest men in the country, marrying British gentlemen with titles and centuries of noble lineage behind them.

Consuelo’s catch was considered one of the finest—Charles Spencer-Churchill, the future Ninth Duke of Marlborough, who stood to become lord of Blenheim, an estate second only to Buckingham Palace. The bride, already considered American royalty, would become a duchess, bestowing upon her family the highest social standing (for which her mother, Alva, who was often snubbed by “old New York”, and who viewed her husband’s money as gauche, was desperate).

And yet on November 6, 1895, the bride was less than thrilled:

I spent the morning of my wedding day in tears and alone no one came near me. A footman had been posted at the door of my apartment and not even my governess was admitted. Like an automaton I donned the lovely lingerie with its real lace and the white silk stockings and shoes…. I felt cold and numb as I went down to meet my father and the bridesmaids who were waiting for me.

Consuelo Vanderbilt (Wikimedia Commons)

Conseulo Vanderbilt loved another—a rich other, but an American without a title or an English country estate. But her marriage to Marlborough was non-negotiable.

Beginning in the 1870s, American girls with money had been flocking to Britain in droves, ready to exchange railroad cash and mining stocks for the right to call themselves “Lady.” (“Downton Abbey” fans will surely recognize Cora Crawley as one of their ilk.) The appeal was clear. The heiresses, unlikely to be admitted to the highest ranks of New York society, would gain entry to an elite social world, and who needed Mrs. Astor’s drawing room when she could keep company with HRH the Prince of Wales?

And Britain’s upper crust would get a much-needed infusion of cash. For a British gentleman to work for money was unthinkable. But by the end of the 19th century it cost more to run a country estate than the estate could make for itself, and the great houses slid dangerously close to disrepair. By marrying a Vanderbilt or a Whitney, a future duke could ensure not just the survival of his family’s land and name, but also a life enhanced by easy access to money, something he certainly wouldn’t get if he married a peer.

By 1895 (a year in which America sent nine daughters to the peerage), the formula had coalesced into a relatively simple process. Mothers and their daughters would visit London for the social season, relying upon friends and relatives who had already made British matches to make introductions to eligible young men. Depending on the fortunes of the girl in question, several offers would be fielded, and her parents, weighing social and financial investments and returns, would make a selection. So such marriages were basically transactional alliances. Even in 1874, the union of Jennie Jerome and Lord Randolph Churchill—which would give the Western world both Winston Churchill and a great deal to talk about—would reflect the beginnings of the trend.

Born in Brooklyn in 1854, dark-haired Jennie captivated Lord Randolph, son of the seventh Duke of Marlborough, with startling suddenness. Within three days of their initial meeting, Jennie and Randolph announced their plans to marry.

Jennie Jerome in the 1880s (Wikimedia Commons)

Neither the Jeromes nor the Randolphs were thrilled. Jennie’s parents thought Lord Randolph, in proposing to their daughter before consulting with them, was in serious breach of etiquette. Not to mention that, as a second son, he wouldn’t inherit his father’s title.

The Randolphs were aghast at their son’s choice of an American bride from a family no one knew anything about, and the more they learned about the Jeromes, the more they disliked the match. Leonard Jerome, Jennie’s father, was a flamboyant speculator in stocks and a noted chaser of comely opera singers her mother, Clara, was occasionally accused of having Iroquois ancestry. Despite owning property in the right part of town (the Jerome Mansion stood at the corner of 26th Street and Madison Avenue), the Jeromes were not considered worthy of the upper echelons of New York society.

Jerome, the duke wrote to his lovestruck son, “drives about six and eight horses in New York (one may take this as an indication of what the man is).” Despite his daughter’s charms, he was a person “no man in his sense could think respectable.”

The Jeromes, though, had two advantages that could not be overlooked. The first was a personal endorsement of the match by Edward, Prince of Wales, who had met Jennie in social settings and liked her. The second was pecuniary.

Randolph had no money of his own, and the measly allowance his father provided would not have been enough for the couple to live on. The Jeromes would be aligning themselves with one of Britain’s most noble families, and for that they were expected to pay handsomely. Leonard Jerome came up with 50,000 pounds plus a 1,000-pound yearly allowance for Jennie (something unheard-of in British families), and the deal was done. In April 1874, Jennie and Randolph were married.

Seven months after the wedding, Lady Randolph gave birth to Winston. (She claimed a fall had induced premature labor, but the baby appeared full-term.) A second followed in 1880, though motherhood did not seem to have slowed Jennie’s quest for excitement. She and Randolph both had extramarital affairs (she, it was rumored, with the Prince of Wales, even as she remained close with Princess Alexandra, his wife), though they remained married until his death, in 1895. (The jury is still out on whether he died of syphilis contracted during extracurricular activities.)

Jennie came to have great influence over the political careers of her husband and son, and remained a force on the London social scene into the 20th century. She also came to represent what the British saw as the most vital kind of American girl—bright, intelligent and a bit headstrong. When Jennie’s essay “American Women in Europe” was published in the Pall Mall Magazine in 1903, she asserted, “the old prejudices against them, which mostly arose out of ignorance, have been removed, and American women are now appreciated as they deserve.” They were beautiful (Jennie Chamberlain, an heiress from Cleveland, so charmed the Prince of Wales he followed her from house party to house party during one mid-1880s social season), well-dressed (they could afford it) and worldly in a way their English counterparts were not. As Jennie Churchill wrote:

They are better read, and have generally traveled before they make their appearance in the world. Whereas a whole family of English girls are educated by a more or less incompetent governess, the American girl in the same condition of life will begin from her earliest age with the best professors…by the time she is eighteen she is able to assert her views on most things and her independence in all.

Despite their joie de vivre, not all American brides were as adaptable as Lady Randolph, and their marriages not as successful. The Marlborough-Vanderbilt match, for one, was significantly less harmonious.

Alva Vanderbilt determined early on that only a noble husband would be worthy of her daughter. She and a team of governesses managed Consuelo’s upbringing in New York and Newport, Rhode Island, where the heiress studied French, music and other disciplines a lady might need as a European hostess. Consuelo was meek, deferring to her mother on most matters. Before the wedding she was described by the Chicago Tribune as having “ all the naive frankness of a child,” an affectation that may have endeared her to the American public, but would be no match for the heir to Blenheim. After they met at the home of Minnie Paget (nee Stevens), a minor American heiress who acted as a sort of matchmaker, Alva went to work ensuring the union would take place. It was settled that the groom would receive $2.5 million in shares of stock owned by Consuelo’s father, who would also agree to guarantee the yearly sum of $100,000 to each half of the couple.

The Duke and Duchess of Marlborough with their children. Painted by John Singer Sargent in 1905 (From To Marry an English Lord)

“Sunny,” as the future duke was known, made little effort to hide his reasons for favoring an American bride Blenheim Palace needed repairs his family couldn’t afford. After the wedding (it is rumored that in the carriage ride after the ceremony, Sunny coldly informed Consuelo of the lover waiting for him in England) he went about spending her dowry restoring the family seat to glory.

Consuelo, for her part, was less than pleased with her new home:

Our own rooms, which faced east, were being redecorated, so we spent the first three months in a cold and cheerless apartment looking north. They were ugly, depressing rooms, devoid of the beauty and comforts my own home had provided.

Unlike her previous American residences, Blenheim lacked indoor plumbing, and many of the rooms were drafty. Once installed there, some 65 miles from London, Consuelo would travel little until the next social season (she was lucky, though some American brides wound up on estates in the North of England, where getting to the capital more than once a year was unthinkable), and in the drawing room she was forced to answer questions nightly about whether she was yet in the family way. If Consuelo failed to produce an heir, the dukedom would pass to Winston Churchill (Lady Randolph’s son), something the current duchess of Marlborough was loath to see happen.

Consuelo and Sunny’s relationship deteriorated. He returned to the womanizing he’d done before their marriage, and she looked elsewhere for comfort, engaging for a time in a relationship with her husband’s cousin, the Hon. Reginald Fellowes. These dalliances were not enough to keep the Marlboroughs happy, and in 1906, barely ten years after their wedding, they separated, divorcing in 1921.

If the Vanderbilt-Marlborough marriage was the high point of the American ascent to the noble realm, it was also the beginning of a backlash. Sunny’s courtship of Consuelo was seen as almost mercenary, and the men who followed him in the hunt for an heiress looked even worse. When Alice Thaw, daughter of a Pittsburgh railroad magnate, agreed to marry the earl of Yarmouth in 1903, she hardly could have guessed that on the morning of her wedding the groom would be arrested for failure to pay outstanding debts and that she would have to wait at the church while her intended and her father renegotiated her dowry.

“The Yarmouth-Thaw Wedding Pictures” (The Pittsburgh Press, 1903)

American fathers, too, began to doubt the necessity of having a duchess in the family. Frank Work, whose daughter Frances’ marriage to James Burke Roche, Baron Fermoy, would end with Frances accusing her husband of desertion, went on record as strongly opposing the practice of trading hard-earned money for louche husbands with impressive names. His 1911 obituary, printed in the New-York Tribune, quoted from an earlier interview:

It’s time this international marrying came to a stop for our American girls are ruining our own country by it. As fast as our honorable, hard working men can earn this money their daughters take it and toss it across the ocean. And for what? For the the purpose of a title and the privilege of paying the debts of so-called noblemen! If I had anything to say about it, I’d make an international marriage a hanging offense.

Ideal marriages, wealthy fathers thought, were like the 1896 match between Gertrude Vanderbilt and Henry Payne Whitney, wherein American money stayed put and even had the chance to multiply.

Much of the Gilded Age matchmaking that united the two nations occurred under the reign of Edward VII, who as Prince of Wales encouraged social merriment equal to that of his mother Queen Victoria’s sobriety. When Edward died, in 1910, the throne passed to his son George V, who, along with his British-bred wife, Mary, curtailed the excess that had characterized his father’s leadership of Britain’s leisure class. Nightly private parties throughout a social season began to seem vulgar as Europe moved closer to war. In New York, Newport and Chicago, the likes of Caroline Astor began to cede social power to the nouveaux riche they had once snubbed, and as the American economy became the domain of men like J.P. Morgan and Andrew Carnegie, their daughters had little reason to spend their inheritances restoring 17th-century castles when they could stay home and be treated as royalty by the press and the public.

Though American girls quit looking for husbands across the pond, the influence of the ones who did become duchesses and baronesses left an indelible mark on the British landscape. American women financed the repair and restoration of once-shabby estates like Blenheim and Wrotham Park, backed political ambitions (Mary Leiter, a department-store heiress from Chicago, used her father’s money to help her husband, George Curzon, become the viceroy of India), and, in the case of Jennie Jerome, gave birth to children who would lead Britain squarely into the 20th century.

The women, too, were changed. Jennie Jerome, after her husband’s death, married two more Englishmen (one of them younger than her son Winston), and other American girls who divorced or outlived their first husbands stayed on in their adoptive country, occasionally marrying other peers and tending to the political and marital careers of their children.

Consuelo Vanderbilt and Winston Churchill at Blenheim Palace, 1902 (Wikimedia Commons)

After she divorced Sunny, Consuelo Vanderbilt married Lt. Jacques Balsan, a French balloonist and airplane pilot, and the two would remain together until his death in 1956, living primarily in a château 50 miles from Paris and, later, a massive Palm Beach estate Consuelo called Casa Alva, in honor of her mother.

Consuelo’s autobiography, The Glitter and the Gold, appeared in 1953 and detailed just how miserable she’d been as the Duchess of Marlborough. But perhaps, during her time as a peer of the realm, something about that life took hold of Consuelo and never quite let go. She died on Long Island in 1964, having asked her family to secure her a final resting place at Blenheim.

80. First Time’s the Charm?

If King Francis is to be believed, Catherine and Henry were plenty randy on their wedding night. In his review of the evening, he commented that both his son and new daughter-in-law “had shown valor in the joust.” Because it’s not bad enough that he was there, he had to give a performance review.

Reign (2013–2017), CBS Television Studios

More from Factinate

Featured Article The Truth Always Comes Out: Dark Family Secrets Exposed There's something about the family structure that encourages secrets. Husbands hiding things from wives, mothers from children, and generation from generation. No clan is left untouched, and even families that seem happy and normal on&hellip Samantha Henman | Apr 08, 2020 Featured Article Entrancing Facts About Madame de Pompadour, France's Most Powerful Mistress Madame de Pompadour didn't just share King Louis XV's bed, she also shared his power. As the most commanding mistress in the French court, she bettered the lives of many and became a beloved figure&hellip Kyle Climans | Dec 07, 2018 Featured Article These People Got Revenge In The Most Ingenious Ways The best revenge might be living well, but that doesn't mean we can always turn the other cheek. From petty paybacks to insane acts of karma, these bitter people somehow found the most ingenious ways&hellip Dancy Mason | Apr 22, 2020 Featured Article Tragic Facts About Catherine of Aragon, Henry VIII’s First Wife Catherine of Aragon was King Henry VIII’s first wife and longest-lasting Queen of England. Although Catherine's successor Queen Anne Boleyn suffered an infamously dark fate, Aragon's own life was somehow even more tragic. Let’s just&hellip Christine Tran | Jun 07, 2018

Watch the video: Ο πιο παραδοσιακός γάμος της χρονιάς - Ζευγάρι και καλεσμένοι ντυμένοι με κρητικές φορεσιές.. (January 2022).