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  • Print publication year: 2020
  • Online publication date: July 2020

Chapter 1 - Choosing a Bride

from Part I - The Life Cycle


This chapter discusses the way royal brides were chosen. Some dynasties, e.g. the Carolingians and the Wessex kings, married members of their own aristocracy, others, e.g. the Plantagenets and the kings of Denmark, married foreign princesses. Both strategies had advantages and disadvantages. In Byzantium there is evidence (much debated and disputed) for bride-shows, public searches for a bride. Royal princesses were sent abroad as young girls and might have to learn new languages and adopt new names. They also brought alien customs, which were not always welcomed. Marriage of a new king to his predecessor’s widow occurred and could either be decried as a disgusting custom or accepted perfectly pragmatically. Church rules affected the range of choice, with increasingly strict rules prohibiting cousin marriage. The chapter closes with a case study, the projected marriages of a daughter of Edward III of England.