Young people often didn’t meet their future spouses until after the marriage had already been arranged, and they were sometimes betrothed and married at very young ages.
The concept of chivalry, or romantic ideals, arrived later in the Middle Ages with knights (some possibly on white horses) and troubadours (traveling poets/musicians) who tried to win their women’s hearts through brave deeds, poetry, and singing beneath balconies (the story of Romeo and Juliet is set in 15-century Italy).
How did your grandparents and great-grandparents court and fall in love?
These days, couples in Western countries usually date casually — though online matchmaking has recently changed the face of dating and courtship dramatically — but traditionally, there were formal courtship rituals that evolved over the ages.
Courtship in the Middle Ages was often a matter of parents negotiating in order to increase the family’s power or wealth.
Status, property, and wealth were the deal makers or breakers.
Henry VIII betrothed his 2-year-old daughter, Mary Tudor, to the infant Dauphin of France.
Among upper classes, marriages were still arranged between people of similar levels of wealth and social status.When a suitable husband was found, the woman’s father paid the groom’s family a dowry in exchange for his daughter’s hand in marriage.A man courted a woman by putting her wants and desires first.The emphasis was on passion and romance; we still talk about a man being chivalrous when he holds open a door for a woman or helps her into a car (or onto a horse).
In the lower classes, the dowry might be a farm animal.
Sometimes, these arrangements were made between wealthy families before either child could walk or talk.