Master of Arts, The University of Akron, May (2008)
Courtship and marriage rituals of the past have often caught the attention of both historians and the mainstream population. Movies, books and plays often center their plots on a romance, or the tribulations of a young couple. Often works that take place in or around seventeenth century England, portray marriage as an arranged business deal, or if chosen by the course of romantic love, an act of utter disobedience. Are these popculture portrayals in any way accurate? Or are they simply images concocted to engage the modern audiences in a period piece that takes them out of their everyday lives, and into a time of Royal Court, tradition and gentlemen suitors?
There are various ways to examine the courtship and marriage rituals in seventeenth century England. One approach is to look at the available public records and write from a mainly demographic perspective. This approach may be found to be very useful, and may allow the historian to gain conclusions about the statistical aspects of marriages, such as: the average age at the time of marriage, the length of courtships, and the length of the marriages themselves. These demographic perspectives are very interesting; however they are not the approach that will be pursued in this thesis.