Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Hot Chocolate, Sleep, Child-Brides of the Medieval Era

            I’m swamped, working on three writing projects at once, each as important as the other. I’m dithering over which to work on first. My solution is to write this instead.

            So … I slept away a major portion of yesterday. I feel better as a result. So that’s good. But it was an otherwise wasted Monday. Mostly. I still treasure hunt among my own stamps (I have boxes of things I’ve accumulated since I was a child) for rarer varieties. I’ve found a few. I bought an auction lot of junk stamps too. That’s too harsh a descriptor. The lot was less expensive inflation era stamps. I was the only bidder. When one bids on messy lots, pages from an old but cheap album, the expectation is that the stamps are mounted haphazardly and that unless the seller verifies a watermark, it’s not the expensive stamp but the cheap one just misplaced on the page. But this lot was so inexpensive that I took the chance.

            The stamp in question was one of the German government official use stamps. There are two varieties that look identical, the difference being that one is watermarked with a “lozenge” pattern and the other with a network pattern. The difference in catalogue value is hundreds of dollars. I have the cheap specimen. So … here on the page was a stamp filling the scarcer stamp’s spot and another filling the cheapie spot. Knowing they were probably the same inexpensive stamp, I bid anyway. (Someone said, Hope springs eternal. I suppose it does.)

            The lot (about 40 stamps total) came yesterday. Some of them are useful as minor varieties or because they have interesting cancellations. But you know the one I checked first was the stamp in question. And yes! Finally! After years of “I want this” longing, I have one. It’s nice too. Some catalogues list it at three hundred dollars. It’s practical retail value is maybe eighty dollars, especially in the current market. But I now have one! Yipee! So I uttered a little ‘woop,’ loud enough to make my pet Scotsman turn his head and smile. Then I went back to bed without even a thought of a snuggle. (I think he was disappointed. But I was sick.)
A little yipee!

            I’ve been researching medieval – late middle ages mostly – family life. In some areas, England for example, marriageable age started at nine. Earlier in life marriages happened. It wasn’t that uncommon for a seven year old girl to be married off. A legal test of marriage at that age consisted of displays of mutual affection – huggles, snuggles, endearments. Today we’d see this as child abuse. And we are often uncomfortable with childhood sexual behavior. Then, both might well have been dead by thirty, so life was contracted. Life events often happened earlier.

            I know a fair amount about my family’s past. Books have been written about bits of it. You might study about some of my ancestors (near and distant) in history class. There are several examples of early-in-life marriage. One young lady was married at twelve (she may in fact have been eleven.) and outlived two husbands much older than she. She had lots of babies, but is supposed to have retained her beauty into later life. Another was married by royal decree at age eight to a boy who was then twelve. While in some of these situations the marriage was not ‘consummated’ until puberty, the boy bedded her right away. Puberty came to her at eleven. She had her first child just past her twelfth birthday. Burke’s abeyant peerage suggests that she birthed at least sixteen children, about half of whom lived to adulthood. What interests me is that she plainly loved her husband. Historical incidents show this to be so. I’m not sure I would have grown up loving a man who had intercourse with me when I was eight. But today is so divorced in thought and deed from a thousand years ago, that it is impossible to say.

            I met Knobby Knees when I was twelve and he was seventeen. I’m certain that if it weren’t for parental supervision and his good sense, I’d have open to any suggestion that he cared to make. So I have some sympathy for our distant ancestors who found themselves married at a young age.

Child Brides were not Uncommon in the Medieval Era

            There is a point to this. The semester that starts in what? Two weeks, or so, I think … will open with a consideration of family life in the late colonial era. Children in America and Brittan were still being married off as young as seven. We’ll discuss that, and other issues connected to family life. And for another project I’m trying to imagine what life would be like for a child bride in the medieval period.

            Later today I’ll return to the rebellious Mr. Jones. My writing partner and I differ on the amount of later in life detail to include. He wants me to re-verify the photo I found is the right Delmont Jones. I’ll do that in a day or so. Now I must merge what we’ve written into one document, return it to him and wait for his comments and fixes.

            Knobby Knees is off today. Now that I feel better, he’s very distracting. I’m posting this, making hot chocolate for two and snuggling! Writing can wait. …


  1. Monday was a cold, dreary, wet day here... a good day to sleep in. Jayne and I worked on gathering documentation that the mortgage company wants for us to refinance our house one last (I hope) time.

    We've refinanced before. Each time we do it when the rates are low and it is to our advantage, but each time the bank wants more and more documentation.

    We had to explain every typo on the last 30 years of our credit reports, all our sources of income, provide birth certificates, tax returns, grocery receipts, blood tests, recent horoscopes, and a partridge in a pear tree!

    You seem to have good luck lately with your stamps. I'm glad things are going well with your hobby.

    One note about marriage. It is a state law in West Virginia that if you divorce your wife, she will legally still be your cousin.

  2. Are you joking Harry?