Dating marriage italy
Marco del Buono Giamberti and Apollonio di Giovanni di Tomaso The Story of Esther, 1460–70Tempera and gold on wood, 44.5 x 140.7 cm (17 1/2 x 55 3/8 in.)The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY The wedding depicted on this panel, which was once part of a wedding chest, is that of the biblical Esther, but the action has been translated in time and place to fifteenth-century Florence.These elaborate and very public festivities helped defuse any lingering dissatisfaction on the part of the two families whose interests were now joined (disputes over dowry amounts, for example) or any others who might have felt unfairly treated during marriage negotiations.His visit was followed by a larger gathering of relatives from both families—males only—during which the final terms of the match were hammered out: the size of the dowry, a schedule for its payment, and the date of the nuptials.The arrangements were made public, giving outside parties a chance to raise objections.Dowries, which consisted of goods such as clothing and jewelry as well as money or property, were among the greatest financial obligations that families with female children faced.Parents hoping to elevate their status paid large sums to place their daughters in advantageous unions, but even marriages among social equals required substantial investment.
Negotiations between two families were sometimes sealed until the bride reached puberty and a suitable dowry could be amassed.In Florence, a special public fund supported by an annual tax provided dowries for orphaned girls.Wealthy individuals also gave dowries for poor girls as acts of pious charity.Before 1563, when reforms enacted by the systematized and formalized the process, the only requirement for marriage was the mutual consent of a man and woman not already married to someone else.Priests, ceremonies, and even witnesses were unnecessary.
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Grooms, too, were expected to provide gifts; among the wealthy, these often included gems and luxurious clothes for the bride to wear during the wedding festivities (see “Wedding preparations for Caterina Strozzi”).