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CrastersBabies
12-27-2011, 09:07 PM
So, the lucky bride and groom have had their wedding. Yay! Lots of feasting (even more yay)!

Now it's time for the DEED. I've read some conflicting reports online and in books. Some say that royalty and nobility would often have people in the room (sometimes a priest or other witnesses) to make sure they "seal the deal," that penetration occurs.

In my WiP, I decided to have some people present. I didn't want that overdone "virgin to the bed, quiet and shy, oh, there goes her maidenhood, he's gentle (or not) and maybe she grows to like it" kind of thing. I wanted something awkward above all. Not a lot of pillow talk, if you know what I mean.

So, there are people present. But, who? I get that a priest may be there--blessing the bed beforehand for fertility reasons--but who else? Who might be present? I've read that the concept of "privacy" was a bit overrated in these times.

Ideas? Thoughts?

Alessandra Kelley
12-27-2011, 09:09 PM
I've seen illuminated manuscripts where it looks like much of the household is hovering about, like a vaguely interested cluster of passersby. But I don't know if this isn't an artistic convention.

I bet Medievalist would know.

Tepelus
12-28-2011, 12:23 AM
I'd like to know this too, since I have a similar scene, except neither of my characters wanted the marriage, and the male (my MC) really doesn't want to do the deed (he has his reasons). She'll do whatever because she knows it has to happen, it's customary, but he's the reluctant one.

Also, mine takes place during the Renaissance, not the medieval period, but I don't think the customs have changed much.

CrastersBabies
12-28-2011, 02:23 AM
Tepelus, our poor couples. :) To live in such a time.

Siri Kirpal
12-28-2011, 06:25 AM
Sat Nam! (Literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

I'm recalling a passage in a architecture book (which I read a bunch of) about English country estate houses (not country cute). The author stated that princes of the blood were allowed in the royal bedroom at any time of the day or night...no matter whose princes they were. That was in the Baroque period, and earlier was even less private. Also, servants slept at the foot of their master's bed until the Baroque era, so you could both have the servants wishing the crowd would depart so they could get some sleep.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

thothguard51
12-28-2011, 06:49 AM
Depends on the level of the royalty as to who would be in the bedchamber on the wedding night.

If I remember right, A King and Queen, might have an Archbishop, the Queens servants, the Chamberlain of the house, maybe a doctor, etc. It was not unheard of to check the sheets for blood.

There was an episode of the Tutors where Henry was bedding his newest bride, German I think, and there was a gallery full of observers watching from behind a sheer curtain to make sure consummation of the marriage was performed. Even Henry was not pleased by this, but its what was demanded at the time.

Lesser Royals had fewer observers, maybe the local priest and the handmaid of the Duchess, or Baroness, or whatever.

And yes, Medievalist more than likely can give you the exact numbers and who would be present...

CrastersBabies
12-28-2011, 10:48 AM
Depends on the level of the royalty as to who would be in the bedchamber on the wedding night.

If I remember right, A King and Queen, might have an Archbishop, the Queens servants, the Chamberlain of the house, maybe a doctor, etc. It was not unheard of to check the sheets for blood.

There was an episode of the Tutors where Henry was bedding his newest bride, German I think, and there was a gallery full of observers watching from behind a sheer curtain to make sure consummation of the marriage was performed. Even Henry was not pleased by this, but its what was demanded at the time.

Lesser Royals had fewer observers, maybe the local priest and the handmaid of the Duchess, or Baroness, or whatever.

And yes, Medievalist more than likely can give you the exact numbers and who would be present...

This was super helpful. I never saw the episode you speak of for the Tutors, but that might be a good thing to check out. Thanks Thoth.

CrastersBabies
12-28-2011, 10:50 AM
Sat Nam! (Literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

I'm recalling a passage in a architecture book (which I read a bunch of) about English country estate houses (not country cute). The author stated that princes of the blood were allowed in the royal bedroom at any time of the day or night...no matter whose princes they were. That was in the Baroque period, and earlier was even less private. Also, servants slept at the foot of their master's bed until the Baroque era, so you could both have the servants wishing the crowd would depart so they could get some sleep.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

Greetings back! Wow. Can you imagine? Servants waiting for the crowds to disperse just to get some sleep.

I'm not sure I'll quite go this far for this scene, but I like this information so much that I'm tempted to use it for another occasion. :D

Old Hack
12-28-2011, 01:43 PM
Elizabeth Chadwick writes in this period, and researches her books with meticulous care. You might like to read some of her work. I'm sure she covers this.

ULTRAGOTHA
12-28-2011, 10:55 PM
Which country and when in the Medieval time period? That will make a difference as well.

ohthatmomagain
12-29-2011, 12:26 AM
So, the lucky bride and groom have had their wedding. Yay! Lots of feasting (even more yay)!

Now it's time for the DEED. I've read some conflicting reports online and in books. Some say that royalty and nobility would often have people in the room (sometimes a priest or other witnesses) to make sure they "seal the deal," that penetration occurs.

In my WiP, I decided to have some people present. I didn't want that overdone "virgin to the bed, quiet and shy, oh, there goes her maidenhood, he's gentle (or not) and maybe she grows to like it" kind of thing. I wanted something awkward above all. Not a lot of pillow talk, if you know what I mean.

So, there are people present. But, who? I get that a priest may be there--blessing the bed beforehand for fertility reasons--but who else? Who might be present? I've read that the concept of "privacy" was a bit overrated in these times.

Ideas? Thoughts?


I don't have anything helpful... but you learn something new every day!

CrastersBabies
12-29-2011, 03:40 AM
Which country and when in the Medieval time period? That will make a difference as well.

It's a fantasy novel, so it can be any. I'd be interested in pretty much any tradition around that time--of any society/culture.

Flicka
12-29-2011, 01:05 PM
I think witnesses were common. I seem to recall that the French king was a witness at Cesare Borgia's wedding night. He wrote to the Pope (Cesare's father) and reported that the marriage had been consummated eight times.

Yes, very different from our customs.

Buffysquirrel
12-29-2011, 03:54 PM
Privacy as we understand it hadn't really been invented in the days when there was only one room in the castle that was actually warm. Who knows, maybe anyone who's interested could wander in and watch....

Alessandra Kelley
12-29-2011, 04:12 PM
This was super helpful. I never saw the episode you speak of for the Tutors, but that might be a good thing to check out. Thanks Thoth.

Never seen the tudors, but just based on the visuals and what I know visually about the 16th century -- golly, I wouldn't rely on them for historical research.

CrastersBabies
12-29-2011, 09:38 PM
Never seen the tudors, but just based on the visuals and what I know visually about the 16th century -- golly, I wouldn't rely on them for historical research.

I have my big girl panties on. I promise.

As I am writing fantasy, I'm not counting on 100% accuracy. :)

To the actual episode, it was on last night believe it or not. Henry can be such an ass in this show, haha. Poor girl did NOT have a horse face!

toogrey2
12-29-2011, 09:48 PM
I would think at least 1-2 members of each family would be there to witness the bedding. Many marriages were arranged for property or title so the family would want to ensure the arrangement was sealed.

areteus
12-30-2011, 03:02 PM
Be careful of using the Tudors... a lot of it is not accurate in terms of fact...

There was a story I heard which may be apophrycal about (I think) Peter the Great. He did not want to sleep with his new wife. The tradition apparently was to come down to the feast after the deed had been performed and show the guests the bed sheets which had to be smeared in blood from her maidenhead being breached. Peter allegedly killed a chicken and used the blood from that and went off to see his Mistress, leaving the poor bride bereft. Could be completely made up, of course, but it is a story I have heard historians discussing.

Sex in many periods of history was a fairly public affair anyway - especially in poor households where everyone shared a single bedroom. You did not need to educate children about sex because they learnt it all from observation.

Another story I heard was about Prince Albert throwing the onlookers out of the room when Victoria was giving birth.

Both traditions stem from the need to ensure the lineage is sound - that the marriage has been consumated and that the child is indeed the child of the queen (and therefore, unless proven otherwise, that of the king. It was usually only royalty where this happened, nobles did not bother as it was less an issue of 'national security'.

Kings, of course, also had Mistresses (often official ones) and bastards (some of whom were acknowledged but they were not eligible to inherit the throne except, maybe, if there was a massive crisis). The famous report by George III's physician allegedly implied that his madness was more likely due to him being faithful to his wife and not keeping a Mistress.

Mutive
12-30-2011, 11:11 PM
So, the lucky bride and groom have had their wedding. Yay! Lots of feasting (even more yay)!

Now it's time for the DEED. I've read some conflicting reports online and in books. Some say that royalty and nobility would often have people in the room (sometimes a priest or other witnesses) to make sure they "seal the deal," that penetration occurs.

In my WiP, I decided to have some people present. I didn't want that overdone "virgin to the bed, quiet and shy, oh, there goes her maidenhood, he's gentle (or not) and maybe she grows to like it" kind of thing. I wanted something awkward above all. Not a lot of pillow talk, if you know what I mean.

So, there are people present. But, who? I get that a priest may be there--blessing the bed beforehand for fertility reasons--but who else? Who might be present? I've read that the concept of "privacy" was a bit overrated in these times.

Ideas? Thoughts?

I suspect that this differs radically by culture. Just because, you know, most things do. (And Spain in 1450 was a lot different than England in the same era. Which in turn was different from Spain in 1000.)

But...I've been reading up on late, Medieval Spain, so I'll give you that approach. ;)

Typically, after a big, public wedding, the bride and groom (who might or might know each other prior to marriage - sometimes they were fostered together, sometimes they were total strangers) would be escorted to a curtained bed. There would, indeed, be witnesses (of any sort) and (generally) a notary. (In fact, that was about all that was required along with a papal bull dismissing consanguinity. Which was needed for almost any marriage, as you would be related within 11 degrees pretty much no matter what.)

The witnesses and notary (generally) would "watch", but probably would more hear things, as there were curtains. The amount of time it took to consummate the marriage was noted (so awkward...) and sheets were checked for blood and...I guess other fluids, to make sure that the bride and groom weren't faking it.

Incidentally, just to make things even more interesting, women were expected to be pleased. There was this Medieval notion that women's genitals were the inverse of men. So if they didn't come, they couldn't get pregnant. (Good for married women, bad for rape victims.) Also, there was some passage in the Bible that claimed that women ought to take the same from marriage as men, which was interpreted to mean that men had a legal and moral responsibility to please their wives. (There were actually laws regarding this. Your wife had a right to reprimand you for doing things like...pulling out too soon, or not pleasing her properly.)

In addition, royal marriages were often conducted by proxy, where someone else would be married to both the bride and groom, and they'd have a symbolic consummation, where they'd both lay on bed together and expose a leg. (But not actually consummate the marriage.) One of these became infamous when the symbolic groom accidentally undid the wrong button and exposed...well, everything.

So all kinds of fun stuff. ;)

Mutive
12-30-2011, 11:14 PM
.

Another story I heard was about Prince Albert throwing the onlookers out of the room when Victoria was giving birth.



Birth was often fairly public, as people didn't want women faking pregnancies and passing off kids who weren't their's. (Some Roman emperor's mother - I'm forgetting which - actually gave birth in a public square, as she was in her 40s, and wanted to make it very clear that she wasn't bribing people to lie that she could still have kids.)

Isabel of Castile also gave birth publicly, and asked for a veil to be placed over her face, so that no one could see a Princess of Castile wincing in pain during labor.