The monk, poet and chronicler Robert Manning wrote in 1303 that many people marry only for the love of property, but "Whan hyt ys go, and ys alle bare, þan ys þe weddyng sorowe & kare".(' When it is gone, and all is bare, then is the wedding sorrow and care'.)Among the peasants, marriage itself was not normally a religious ceremony - but that doesn't mean that they "didn't get married", but that marriage was seen primarily as a secular contract. Requirements today Marriage can be defined as a union between a man and a woman to become as one in the eyes of the church and most importantly, God.' study of the English village of Eltham in the 14th century: The village's land was normally divided up into plots. Marriage and women’s rights in the medieval society B. Unfortunately for women, they had little or no rights in their marriages, “medieval people thought of conjugality as a hierarchy headed by a husband who not only controlled his wife’s financial assets and public behavior, but also freely enforced his will through physical violence” (qtd. Arranged marriages were based on different requirements, and varied depending on ones religion, nobility and ability to conceive children.
As such, questions of marriage, inheritance and succession were just as important to a peasant family as they were to a royal dynasty, though on a smaller scale.Since rent was normally paid in the form of labour services - so many man-hours of work per week on the lord's land - a woman with property likewise had a financial interest in marrying a man who could perform those services, since otherwise she'd have to hire labourers to do the work on her behalf. A woman's father paid a certain sum of money or property to her new husband when they married.The purpose of this, in a society where women were usually barred from owning property in their own right, was to provide extra resources by which the husband could support his wife, and the children she would presumably soon bear him.(Having said that, many couples did go to church for Mass immediately after getting married, in order to receive God's blessing on their union.) All that was required, by both Church and secular doctrine, for a legal marriage was that the couple were allowed to marry (that is: over the age of consent, not too closely related, and not already married) and that they exchange vows by mutual consent, and then consummate the marriage.In theory couples could get married quite legally out in the woods, or even while already in bed with each other, by exchanging vows.The usual custom in England at this time was primogeniture: the eldest son inherited all the land.He would want a wife, and children to work on his land; agricultural societies favour large families.The amount was based on the size of the dowry, and sometimes other factors too: a woman marrying a man from a different village and planning to move there to live might be charged a higher fee, since the lord was going to lose her labour services and those of her children.Marriages were often arranged, just as they were among the nobility.Similarly, a widow was entitled to a lifetime interest in her deceased husband's land, normally one-third of it, to support her; and if she had no adult children, she would inherit all the land, or at least control it until her son grew up and could take it over.A man marrying a widow with property, or the daughter of a man with no sons, could become wealthy by peasant standards.