The Yorkist Age: Daily Life during the Wars of the Roses

By Paul Murray Kendall | Go to book overview

10
The Marriage Hunt

IN the Yorkist Age almost everybody married. A spinster was a woman who spun yarn; a bachelor was an unliveried member of a London gild. Except for nuns, and widows who took the order of chastity, women married early and married again as often as they lost husbands. By the time Grace de Saleby, a great heiress, had reached the age of eleven, she was joined to her third husband who had paid 300 marks for her.

Town labourers and peasants of the vill loved where they looked and married where they loved. Mak and Tib were freer as well as poorer than their betters. Tib watched him play football on the village green; he noticed when he walked with her to church on Whitsun how well daisies suited her dark hair. Perhaps on a summer morning he gave her a green gown and then the banns were cried and they were married.

Occasionally love also had its way at the apex of society. The Scots king, James I, while a prisoner for long years in England, fell in love with Lady Jane Beaufort, married her, and wrote The Kingis Quair to celebrate his passion. Young Edward IV, entranced by the beauty of the widowed Elizabeth Woodville, wedded her secretly at her family's country seat on May Day of 1464; but, as we have seen, his subjects grumbled and grouched that he had chosen beneath his dignity and failed to strengthen the realm by a foreign alliance.

In the fifteenth century all the upper ranks of English society held to the conviction that marriage represented an instrument of worldly advancement. Townsmen and gentry formed one vast web of wife-and-husband hunters; parents, brothers and

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The Yorkist Age: Daily Life during the Wars of the Roses
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Preface 7
  • Contents 11
  • Principal Persons 15
  • Prologue - The Times 21
  • 1 - The Mayor 51
  • 1 - The Mayor: at Home 53
  • 2 - The Mayor: Abroad 88
  • 3 - Rebel Against the Mayor 117
  • 4 - The Lord Mayor of London 134
  • II - Other Important People 159
  • 5 - The King and the Royal Household 161
  • 6 - Lords and Gentry 194
  • 7 - Churchmen and the Church 244
  • 8 - Merchants, Pirates, Aliens and Lawyers 281
  • III - The Household 329
  • 9 - The Fabric of Life 331
  • 10 - The Marriage Hunt 364
  • II - Wives 401
  • 12 - Children 434
  • Epilogue 463
  • Bibliography 505
  • Index 515
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