Tuesday 14 February 2012

Men In Their Prime

Battle of Crecy

Happy Valentines Day! Let's celebrate by taking a look at "love" in the Middle Ages. Men in their twenties were considered to be in their prime. In their thirties they were “mature” and in their forties “growing old”.
For women, subtract five or six years. They were in their prime at seventeen, mature at twenty-five and growing old by their mid thirties.
Boys and girls were betrothed to each other in infancy and most girls of good birth were married by the age of sixteen. Marriage at twelve was acceptable, although cohabitation was usually not begun until fourteen.
By their mid twenties most women had produced five or six children, at least half of which had died. This is if they survived the high risk of childbirth. Given the violent nature of society, many would already be widows.
Medieval boys were expected to work from the age of seven, and could be hung for theft at the same age. They could marry at fourteen and be called upon to serve their king in a war at fifteen.
Noble youths could be given command of battalions. At the age of 20, Edward III declared war on the Scots and led an army into battle, despite being outnumbered two to one. He had the full confidence of his nobles, knights and infantry.
In 1346 at the Battle of Crecy, command of the vanguard was given to Prince Edward, then just 16.
I’m afraid this means my heroes and heroines are not historically accurate. The men of the Montbryce family are definitely in their “prime” even though they are all close to 30 when they meet and fall in love with their heroines.
I would have a difficult time writing a steamy scenario for a popular romance that involves a fourteen year old boy and twelve year old girl. Good thing I write fiction! While I do strive mightily for historical accuracy in my novels, this is one area I’m likely to keep imposing my 21st century mindset on my stories!


  1. I'm glad of your mindset! Unless it's a YA, I'm not too keen on reading about teenagers. I have too many at home=)

    1. Thanks Linda. Mine are up and grown now, but I remember it well!

  2. I'm with you on making the characters older!

  3. Thanks for your comment Patricia. Glad you enjoyed the post.

  4. Interesting post with a great title. lol about the romance bt. 12 and 14 yo. The age of marriage has lengthened noticeably even in our lifetimes.

  5. Thanks for your comment, Carly. Your observation is correct in my case certainly. I married at 20, whereas all my daughters were in their mid twenties when they married.