Women who Married for Love

Chapter 1: Introduction

Five hundred years ago, royal and noble parents arranged their daughters’ marriages to men of appropriate rank, selected for political advantage. Romantic love was frowned upon and certainly no basis for matrimony.

For a second marriage, a woman might exercise an element of choice, provided the man was of suitable degree - for status was everything, and to make a match that “disparaged” your blood might lead to you being cast off by your kin. Despite the risk of ostracism, love occasionally triumphed and women asserted themselves to marry lower-ranking husbands. Provided both parties stood by each other, no amount of outrage on the part of relatives could break up an unsuitable union, as the only requirement for a valid marriage was consent. Neither priest, parental consent, nor a ceremony were necessary.

Between 1430 and 1565, seven ladies close to the throne braved royal wrath and scandal by marrying men of lower degree for love.