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The Form of Matrimony in the European Middle Ages


As reconstructed by W. J. Bethancourt III, ULC
known in the SCA Inc. as Ioseph of Locksley

This is not intended to be represented as a true medieval marriage rite, but rather a reconstruction (with such alterations and interpolations as to make it acceptable in modern usages) from available references for use within the SCA, nor is it represented as a "official" rite of any Church, nor as an official ceremony of the SCA Inc.

The sources used were the Book of Common Prayer of HRM Elizabeth I of England, the Sarum Rite, the York Rite, and various other lesser sources.



     At the day and time appointed for solemnization of Matrimony,  the 
     persons to be married shall come into the porch of the Church  with 
     their friends and neighbors; and there standing together, the  Man 
     on the right hand, and the woman on the left, with that person who
     shall give the Woman betwixt them, the Priest shall say,

Dearly beloved, we are gathered together here in the sight of God to join 
together this Man and this Woman  in  holy Matrimony;  which  is an 
honourable estate, instituted  of God in Paradise, and into which holy estate 
these two persons present come now to be joined.   Therefore if  any  man  
can shew any just cause, why they may  not  lawfully  be  joined together, 
let him now speak, or else hereafter for ever hold his peace. 

     And  also,  speaking unto the persons that shall  be  married,  he 
     shall say,

I require and charge you both, as ye will answer at the dreadful day of 
judgement when the secrets of all hearts shall be disclosed, that if 
either of  you know any impediment, why ye may not be lawfully joined 
together in  Matrimony, that ye confess it.  For ye be well assured, that 
so many as be coupled together otherwise than God's Word doth allow are 
not joined together by  God; neither is their Matrimony lawful. 

     At  which day of Marriage, if any man do alledge and  declare  any 
     impediment, why they may not be coupled together in Matrimony,  by 
     God's  Law,  or  the Laws of the Realm; and  will  be  bound,  and 
     sufficient  sureties with him, to the parties;  or else put  in  a 
     Caution  (to the full value of such charges as the persons  to  be 
     married  do  thereby sustain) to prove his  allegation;  then  the 
     solemnization  must be deferred, until such time as the  truth  be 
     tried. If no impediment be alleged, then shall the Priest say unto  
     the Man,

N.,  Wilt thou have this Woman to be thy wedded wife, to live  together  
after God's ordinance in the holy estate of Matrimony?  Wilt thou love 
her,  comfort her, honour, and keep her, in sickness and in health; and 
forsaking all other, keep thee only unto her, so long as ye both shall 
live? 

                           The Man shall answer:

I will.

                 Then shall the Priest say to the Woman,

N.,  Wilt thou have this man to be thy wedded husband, to live together  
after God's  ordinance  in the holy estate of Matrimony?  Wilt thou  obey  
him,  and serve him, love, honour, and keep him in sickness and in 
health; and,  forsaking all other, keep thee only unto him, so long as 
ye both shall live? 

                           The Woman shall answer:

I will.

     Thus ends the formal betrothal.
     They shall then advance unto the Altar, led by the Minister,
     who shall then turn to the assembled company, and say:

Who giveth this Woman to be married to this Man?     

     And the person who gives the Woman shall answer, and shall place
     the Woman's right hand in the hand of the Minister, and then shall
     retire.

     Then shall they give their troth to each other in this manner:

     The  Minister,  receiving the Woman at her  father's  or  friend's 
     hands,  shall cause the Man with his right hand to take the  Woman 
     by her right hand, and to say after him as followeth,

I,  N., take thee N to my wedded wife, to have and to hold from this day  
forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, for fairer or fouler, 
in sickness and in  health, to  love and to cherish, till death us depart, 
according to God's  holy  ordinance; and thereunto I plight thee my troth. 

     Then  shall they loose their hands; and the Woman, with her  right 
     hand  taking the Man by his right hand, shall likewise  say  after 
     the Minister,

I  N.  take  thee N to my wedded husband, to have and to hold  from  this  
day forward,  for  better  for worse, for richer or poorer, in  sickness  
and  in health, to be bonny and buxom at bed and at board, to love and to 
cherish, till death us depart,  according  to God's holy ordinance; and 
thereunto I plight thee my troth. 

     Then  shall they again loose their hands; and the Man  shall  give  
     unto  the  Woman a Ring, laying the same upon the Book  with  the   
     accustomed  duty to the Priest and Clerk.                           
     And the Priest shall bless the Ring(s) in the following manner:     

Bless these Rings, O merciful Lord, that those who wear them, that give
and recieve them, may be ever faithful to one another, remain in your peace,
and live and grow old together in your love, under their own vine and fig
tree, and seeing their children's children. Amen.

     And the Priest,  taking the  Ring, shall deliver it to the Man, to 
     put it on  the  fourth finger  of  the Woman's left hand.  And the
     Man holding the ring there, and taught by the Priest, shall say,

With this Ring I thee wed, (here placing it upon her thumb) and with my 
body I thee honor, (here placing it upon her index finger) and with all 
my worldly goods I thee endow; (here placing it upon her ring finger) 
In the Name of the Father, + and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen. 

     If it be a double-ring ceremony, let the Woman do the same as the
     Man, giving him the ring, and repeating the same words as he.

     They both shall kneel down; and the Minister shall say,

Let us pray.

O Eternal God, Creator and Preserver of all mankind, Giver of  all  
spiritual grace, the Author of everlasting life;  Send thy blessing upon 
these thy servants, this man and this woman, whom we bless in thy Name; + 
that, as Isaac  and Rebecca  lived  faithfully together, so these persons 
may surely  perform  and keep  the  vow and covenant betwixt them made, 
whereof this  Ring  given  and received is a token and pledge, and may 
ever hereafter remain in perfect love and peace together, and live 
according to thy laws;  through Jesus Christ  our Lord.  Amen. 

      And here shall be said the "Our Father."

      Then shall the Priest join their right hands together, and say,

Those whom God hath joined together let no man put asunder.

      Then shall the Minister speak unto the people.

Forasmuch as N and N have consented together in holy wedlock, and  have 
witnessed the same before God and this company, and thereto have  given 
and pledged their troth each to the other, and have declared the same 
by giving  and  receiving  of a Ring, and  by  joining  of  hands;   I 
pronounce therefore that they be Man and Wife together, in the Name of the 
Father, + and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen 

      And the Minister shall add this blessing.

God the Father, + God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, bless, preserve, and  
keep you;  the Lord mercifully with his favour look upon you;  and so 
fill you with all  spiritual  benediction and grace, that ye may so live  
together  in  this life, that in the world to come ye may have life 
everlasting.  Amen. 

      And here the Minister shall turn the couple to the Company, and they
      may kiss each the other, and then proceed from the Altar.

      And if it be the wish of the couple to take Communion, they may do it
      privately, following these ceremonies.

              Here endeth the Medieval Wedding


The Form of SOLEMNIZATION OF MATRIMONY

Drawn From The Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England As Promulgated by Elizabeth I, Those words in CAPITALS denote differences from the BCP of A.D. 1837 - 1901, and those words in (parens) denote words not used in Elizabeth I's BCP. Transcribed by Sam'l de Basset and Ioseph of Locksley
At the day and time appointed for solemnization of Matrimony, the persons to be married shall come into the body of the Church with their friends and neighbors; and there standing together, the Man on the right hand, and the woman on the left, the Priest shall say, Dearly beloved, we are gathered together here in the sight of God, and in the face of HIS congregation, to join together this Man and this Woman in holy Matrimony; which is an honourable estate, instituted OF GOD IN PARADISE in the time of man's innocency, signifying unto us the mystical union that is betwIXT Christ and his Church; which holy estate Christ adorned and beautified with his presence, and first miracle that he wrought, in Cana of Galilee; and is commended of Saint Paul to be honorable among all men: and therefore is not (by any) to be enterprised, NOR taken in hand, unadvisedly, lightly, or wantonly, to satisfy MEN's carnal lusts and appetites, like brute beasts that have no understanding, but reverently, discreetly, advisedly, soberly, and in the fear of God; duly considering the causes for which Matrimony was ordained. ONE WAS the procreation of children, to be brought up in the fear and nurture of the Lord, and PRAISE OF GOD. Secondly, It was ordained for a remedy against sin, and to avoid forni-cation; that such persons as have not the gift of continency might marry, and keep themselves undefiled members of Christ's body. Thirdly, It was ordained for the mutual society, help, and comfort, that the one ought to have of the other, both in prosperity and adversity. Into which holy estate these two persons present COME NOW to be joined. Therefore if any man can shew any just cause, why they may not lawfully be joined together, let him now speak, or else hereafter for ever hold his peace. And also, speaking unto the persons that shall be married, he shall say, I require and charge you both, as ye will answer at the dreadful day of judgement when the secrets of all hearts shall be disclosed, that if either of you know any impediment, why ye may not be lawfully joined together in Matrimony, THAT YE confess it. For YE BE well assured, that so many as BE coupled together otherwise than God's Word doth allow are not joined together by God; neither is their Matrimony lawful. At which day of Marriage, if any man do alledge and declare any impediment, why they may not be coupled together in Matrimony, by God's Law, or the Laws of the Realm; and will be bound, and sufficient sureties with him, to the parties; or else put in a Caution (to the full value of such charges as the persons to be married do thereby sustain) to prove his allegation; then the solemnization must be deferred, until such time as the truth be tried. If no impediment be alleged, then shall the Curate say unto the Man, N., Wilt thou have this Woman to be thy wedded wife, to live together after God's ordinance in the holy estate of Matrimony? Wilt thou love her, comfort her, honour, and keep her, in sickness and in health; and forsaking all other, keep thee only unto her, so long as ye both shall live? The Man shall answer: I will. Then shall the Priest say to the Woman, N., Wilt thou have this man to be thy wedded husband, to live together after God's ordinance in the holy estate of Matrimony? Wilt thou obey him, and serve him, love, honour, and keep him in sickness and in health; and, forsak ing all other, keep thee only unto him, so long as ye both shall live? The Woman shall answer: I will. Then shall the Minister say, Who giveth this Woman to be married to this Man? Then shall they give their troth to each other in this manner. The Minister, receiving the Woman at her father's or friend's hands, shall cause the Man with his right hand to take the Woman by her right hand, and to say after him as followeth, I, N., take thee N to my wedded wife, to have and to hold from this day for ward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us DEPART, according to God's holy ordinance; and thereto I PLIGHT thee my troth. Then shall they loose their hands; and the Woman, with her right hand taking the Man by his right hand, shall likewise say after the Minister, I N. take thee N to my wedded husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love, cherish, and to obey, till death us DEPART, according to God's holy ordinance; and thereto I give thee my troth. Then shall they again loose their hands; and the Man shall give unto the Woman a Ring, laying the same upon the book with the accustomed duty to the Priest and Clerk. And the Priest, taking the Ring, shall deliver it to the Man, to put it on the fourth finger of the Woman's left hand. And the Man holding the ring there, and taught by the Priest, shall say, With this Ring I thee wed, (and) with my body I thee worship, and with all my worldly goods I thee endow; In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen. Then the Man leaving the Ring upon the fourth finger of the Woman's left hand, they both shall kneel down; and the Minister shall say, Let us pray. O Eternal God, Creator and Preserver of all mankind, Giver of all spiritual grace, the Author of everlasting life; Send thy blessing upon these thy servants, this man and this woman, whom we bless in thy Name; that, as Isaac and Rebecca lived faithfully together, so these persons may surely perform and keep the vow and covenant betwixt them made, (whereof this Ring given and received is a token and pledge,) and may ever hereafter remain in perfect love and peace together, and live according to thy laws; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. Then shall the Priest join their right hands together, and say, Those whom God hath joined together let no man put asunder. Then shall the Minister speak unto the people. Forasmuch as M and N have consented together in holy wedlock, and have witnessed the same before God and this company, and thereto have given and pledged their troth either to (the) other, and have declared the same by giving and receiving of a Ring, and by joining of hands; I pronounce that they be Man and Wife together, In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen And the Minister shall add this blessing. God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Ghost, bless, preserve, and keep you; the Lord mercifully with his favour look upon you; and so fill you with all spiritual benediction and grace, that ye may so live together in this life, that in the world to come ye may have life everlasting. Amen.
There after are said or sung Beati Omnes -- Ps. CXXVIII or Deus Misereatur -- Ps. LXVII, The Glory Be, The Kyrie, The Our Father, A short Litany, & Two Pages of Exceedingly Verbose Prayers which my laziness prevaileth upon me NOT to transcribe. Holy Communion for the Bride and Groom is required to be taken that same day.
The End

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