Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Question from Elizabeth M - Proxy marriages v. pre-contracts
I am not sure if this question has been answered before--if so, please forgive the repeat. I am confused about the difference between pre-contracts and proxy marriages made through alliances and how subsequent marriages are effected. I am currently reading John Ashdown-Hills biography of Eleanor Talbot Butler, in which he argues basically for Titulus Regulus--saying that Edward IV either married Eleanor in secret, or at the least, made a promise and then they had sexual relations, which according to the laws then, amounted to an actual marriage. As a result, his subsequent marriage to Elizabeth Wydeville was bigamous and its issue bastards. This was the argument Richard III used to "claim" the throne for himself when he imprisoned Edward's young sons, Edward V and Richard, Duke of York. Anne Boleyn may have had a pre-contract with Henry Percy, but it is unknown i she consummated the relationship. In marriage contracts which were arranged by alliance, say for example, Princess Mary Tudor's to the future Emperor Charles V, or her niece Mary's contracts to the same Charles and later the Dauphin of France--were there similarities to a pre-contract and was the only difference a lack of physical consummation? In the elder Mary Tudor's case with Charles, and in her niece's case with the Dauphin, were not proxies used to exchange rings? The elder Mary Tudor was considered to be, or at least thought of herself, as Charles's "wife." How did the church deal with these "marriages"?