See also:left optional by the
See also:church and not necessary in
See also:betrothal was anciently a formal ceremony which in most cases preceded the actual
See also:marriage service, usually by a
See also:period of some
See also:weeks, but the marriage might for various reasons be delayed for years . The
See also:canon law distinguished two types of betrothal:—(1) Sponsalia de praesenti, (2) Sponsalia de futuro . The first was a true though irregular marriage, and was abolished by the council of Trent as leading to clandestine unions and therefore being inimical to morality . The second, or betrothal properly so called, was a promise to marry at a future date, which promise without further ceremony became a valid marriage upon
See also:con-summation . The church never precisely determined the
See also:form of the ceremony, but demanded for its validity that it should have been entered into freely and at a legal age; i.e. after the seventh birthday . The church further declared that
See also:females between the ages of seven and twelve, and
See also:males between seven and fourteen, could be betrothed, but not married, and that all such betrothals were to be public . The
See also:laws as to betrothals tended to encourage abuses; and the
See also:people, especially in the rural districts, inclined to hold betrothal sufficient
See also:justification for cohabitation . Such pre-contract is known to have existed in the case of
See also:Shakespeare (q.v.) .
See also:Douce (Illustrations of Shakespeare and of Antient
See also:Manners, 1807) says that betrothal consisted of the "interchange of rings—the kiss—the joining of hands, to which is to be added the testimony of witnesses." In France the presence of a
See also:priest seems to have been considered essential, and though this was not so elsewhere it was customary for the couple to get their
See also:parish priest to witness their promise . In England
See also:solemn betrothal was almost universally practised . Among the peasantry the place of rings was taken by a
See also:coin which was broken between the pair, each taking a
See also:part .
But almost any
See also:gift sufficed . A case in 1582is recorded where the
See also:lover gave the girl a pair of gloves, two oranges, two handkerchiefs and a red
See also:girdle . Sometimes the
See also:bride-elect received a bent or crooked sixpence . At the conclusion of the ceremony, which by no means always took place in a church, it seems to have been usual for the couple to
See also:pledge each other in a
See also:cup of
See also:wine, as do the Jews and Russians to-
See also:day . This drinking together was ever the universal
See also:custom of parties in ratification of a bargain .
See also:Strutt (1749–1802) states that by the
See also:civil law gifts given at betrothal could be recovered by the parties, if the marriage did not take place . But only conditionally, for if the man " had had a
See also:kiss for his
See also:money, he should lose one
See also:half of that which he gave . Yet with the woman it is otherwise, for, kissing or not kissing, whatever she gave, she may ask and have it again . However, this extends only to gloves, rings, bracelets and such-like small wares." Though the church abstained from prescribing the form of the ceremony, it jealously watched over the fulfilment of such. contracts and punished their violation . Betrothal, validly contracted, could be dissolved either by mutual consent, or by the supervening of some
See also:physical or social
See also:change in the parties, or by the omission to fulfil one of the conditions of the contract . But here the church stepped in, and endeavoured to override such law as existed in the
See also:matter by decreeing that whoever, after betrothal, refused to marry in facie ecclesiae, was liable to excommunication till relieved by public penance . In England the law was settled by an
See also:act of 1753, which enacted that an aggrieved party could obtain redress only by an
See also:action at
See also:common law for
See also:breach of promise of marriage (see MARRIAGE) .
Formal betrothal is no longer customary in England, but on the
See also:European continent it retains much of its former importance . There it is either solemn (publicly in church) or private (simply before witnesses) . Such betrothals are legal contracts . They are only valid between persons of legal age, both of whom consent; and they are rendered void by
See also:fraud, intimidation and duress . In Germany if the parties are under age the consent of the parents is needed; but if this be unreasonably withheld the couple may
See also:appeal to a
See also:magistrate, who can sanction the betrothal . If the parents disagree, the
See also:father's wish prevails . Public betrothal carries with it an
See also:obligation to marry, and in case of refusal an action " lies " for the injured party . In Germany the betrothal is generally celebrated before the relatives, and the couple are called bride and bridegroom from that day until marriage . In Russia, where it was once as binding as marriage, it is now a mere formal part of the marriage ceremony . Among the
See also:ancient Jews betrothal was formal and as binding as marriage . After the ceremony, which consisted of the handing of a
See also:ring or some
See also:object of value to the bride and formal words of contract, and the mutual pledging of the couple in consecrated wine, a period of twelve months elapsed before the marriage was completed by the formal home-taking; unless the bride was a widow or the
See also:groom a widower, when this
See also:interval was reduced to
See also:thirty days . Latterly the ceremony of betrothal has become a part of the marriage ceremony, and the engagement has become the informal affair it is in England .
For betrothal customs in
See also:China, the East and elsewhere, consult L . J . Miln, Wooings and Weddings in Many Climes (
See also:London, 19oo), and H . N .
See also:Hutchinson, Marriage Customs in Many Lands (London, 1897) . On early
See also:English law as to betrothals see
See also:Sir F .
See also:Pollock and
See also:History of English Law before the
See also:time of
See also:Edward I . (2nd ed., 1898) . See also J . O . Llalliwell-Phillipps, Outlines of the
See also:Life of Shakespeare (London, 1848, 1883) .
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