Sunday, January 25, 2015

Question from Annette - Marriage of Elizabeth Seymour and Sir Anthony Ughtred

I am doing research for a book,looking at elizabeths marriage to sir anthony and looking at seemed since she was born in 1518 and he in 1478, he would have been around 53 to her being 13? is that correct? would they have been married off so young unless i have the maths wrong,they apparently married in 1530/31 and he died 3 years later,can someone clarify this for me?

thank you


PhD Historian said...

I had a quick look at the Wikipedia pages on both Sir Anthony and his wife Elizabeth. While I do most commonly distrust Wikipedia, these two articles appear to be quite well researched and properly grounded in primary source materials. I therefore suspect the information on the Wiki pages is reasonably accurate.

But I am inclined to suspect that Elizabeth was actually at least 14 years old when she married. Fourteen was the "age of discretion," the minimum age for receiving the adult sacraments of the church, including marriage (the others were penance, communion, holy orders, and extreme unction). The age requirement could be waived by a bishop, and may well have been in Elizabeth's case if she were closer to 14 than to 13. And she does seem to have been married for the first time by at least the age of 14.

Marriage between a much older man and a much younger woman was perhaps more common in the Tudor period than it is today, and we should not apply modern moral and ethical values to the age difference. Marriage in the Tudor era was seldom for "love," but was instead a financial arrangement that was intended to benefit both parties in some material way. He got a companion, housekeeper, and mother to birth his heirs; she got relative domestic security, status within the household, etc. Exchanges of lands and money were also usually involved. Sometimes an established but elderly male provided the better opportunity for the bride's family than did some young buck who had yet to establish himself in the world. Even royal brides were sometimes required to marry much older men, e.g.: 18-year-old Mary Tudor and 52-year-old Louis XII of France.

Marilyn Roberts said...

Mary Tudor's second husband and widower, Charles Brandon, married the heiress Catherine Willoughby when he was 49 and Catherine only 13. And, of course, there is the example of Brandon's friend Henry VIII who was 49 when he married Katherine Howard, at least 30 years his junior.