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Betrothed Through the Centuries: A Timeline of Marriage


6th Century through 17th Century
Engagement rings, once symbols of a successful business negotiation, are considered signs of love today.
Engagement rings, once symbols of a successful business negotiation, are considered signs of love today.
Jamie Grill/Iconica/Getty Images

No Valentines or romantic weekends shared between spouses to be found in this chunk of time. Marriages continued to be arranged affairs, particularly useful for solidifying status, wealth and power. Men of one family would present a potential bride to another family, and then they'd negotiate a dowry, or bride price. When the deal was struck, the men presented the bride-to-be with a ring to celebrate the successful transaction; of course, giving rings to celebrate betrothal has become much more romantic (and expensive) in recent times.

During this time, Christian churches began to take a more active role in the marriage process, a development we'll explore in the next element of our timeline.


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