Dating and marriage in the elizabethan era
Only among the nobility would you typically find marriages between much younger parties.Particularly amongthe nobility, but even down through the middle and lower classes, marriages were arranged between families for mutual enrichment, to stabilize a family line, or by common acceptance that “of course these two families’ children will marry.” It was a situation that proved particularly challenging for women, as women were considered just slightly more important than cattle during this era (a mild exaggeration, but still).
Oddly enough, there seems to be a period in the late sixteenth century when the mean marriage age of women in and around the area of Stratford-on- Avon dropped as low as 21 years: the mean marriage age from 1580 to 1589 was about 20.6 years, and it was in this decade that Shakespeare, at the age of eighteen, married Anne Hathaway.
Who knows–maybe they’ll be practiced five hundred years from now as well.
If you would like to share any betrothal/wedding customs you particularly like, I would love to hear them!
The average age of marriage in aristocracy was 19-21 women, 24-26 for men, but for most classes is was higher.
The average age of marriage in England through the 1500-1600s was 25-26 for women and 27-28 for men (41).