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Banns-Wedlock-art - 3/29/13


"Banns of Wedlock" by mistress katherine kerr.


NOTE: See also the files: Mdvl-Weddngs-art, p-weddings-bib, weddings-msg, weddings-e-art, p-marriage-msg, p-marriage-art, Ger-marriage-msg, flowers-msg.





This article was submitted to me by the author for inclusion in this set of files, called Stefan's Florilegium.


These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org


Copyright to the contents of this file remains with the author or translator.


While the author will likely give permission for this work to be reprinted in SCA type publications, please check with the author first or check for any permissions granted at the end of this file.


Thank you,

Mark S. Harris...AKA:..Stefan li Rous

stefan at florilegium.org



Banns of Wedlock

by mistress katherine kerr



When Lady Agnes de Kyrri asked me if I could help out in preparing her banns of wedlock for Canterbury Faire, I was delighted – a worthy wordy project which would involve wordsmithery, some theatrics and associated typesetting and printing. Huzzah!


After some initial research and discussion, we settled on a format that would make use of the various elements Canterbury Faire had to offer, and which suited the late-period Italian persona of Agnes' partner, Elena (with Agnes being an Anglo-Saxon, we had relatively little to work with there in terms of recorded ceremonies).


Historical Background


Marriage was a relatively simple affair for much of the SCA time period, but by the time the 1500s rolled round, things were getting fairly formal. This was partly in response to increasing concerns regarding the validity of all-too-casual betrothals and their consequent challenges in the law courts.


In 1563, the Council of Trent attempted to bring some certainty to pre-marital relations (as it were), by formalizing the requirement that those intending marriage have that intention announced publicly in church during Mass on three consecutive Holy Days. This was to be done in the resident parishes of both parties, and aimed at ensuring any possible impediments were identified before a wedding took place. Over the next 50 years, additional sets of canons were passed codifying things still further.


Thus we have the "banns" (from the Middle English for "proclamation"). These days they are solely associated with proclaiming a marriage, but a section called "The Proclamation of the Banns" in a collection of plays from the latter half of the 1400s makes use of another sense. According to the annotations of the N-Town Plays:


…medieval European banns took three basic and public forms: a lord's proclamation, a marriage announcement, or an advertisement of a play performance


The banns prologue has a set of vexillators (flag bearers) whose job it is to proclaim the future performance of the plays somewhere else in town. Think of them as the medieval equivalents of sandwich-board advertisers.






The proclamation itself    was fairly simple. From the Book of Common Prayer on, the wording    simply sought to announce the names of those involved and inquire whether    anyone had any knowledge of a canonical or civil legal impediment to the marriage.    Such impediments could include a pre-existing marriage or commitment, a vow    of celibacy, a lack of consent, or kinship too close for comfort. The    relationships dictated in the consanguinity rules were listed to allow for    checking.




You could get around    the waiting period that the banns imposed by arranging a marriage license or    bond. This allowed the banns to be waived, so long as you could swear before    a bishop or archdeacon that you were "good to go" (the marriage    allegation). You usually had to have good cause, such as marrying away from    your home parish, but a suitably generous bond payment could probably make    the priest acquiesce to your request….




Perhaps the most    notorious case of this was that of one William Shakespeare, who was married    under a bond with just one reading of the banns. Not only was he under the    age of consent (18, instead of 21), but his would-be bride was pregnant and    the wedding-free period of Advent was fast approaching...




The Canons of 1584    included one which was "for restraining of licenses to marry [for the    celebration of matrimony] without [the threefold proclamation which they    call matrimonial] banns". It laid out the conditions under which the    banns could be waived, including the major one of lack of impediment, as    well as legal issues, as well as the need for the consent of parents or    governors. Anyone who offended against the canon was to be "suspended    for one half year".




Canons passed in 1566    and 1597 further stipulated the information to go on the marriage license, where    the banns were waived or where one of the parties was under the age of    consent. In that case the licence required the names of the parties, their    parents' and their parishes.




The Italian Approach




During the Renaissance,    the Italians had a variety of ways of slowing down the betrothal period to    allow a good, hard look at the relationship that would bring two families    together, with four different stages that could take a considerable amount    of time to work through (de Estepa):


      the impalmamento:    negotiations conducted, often through a third-party, with the terms of the    marriage contract discussed and sealed by a handshake


      the sponsalia:    the negotiation of the dowry, involving the male members of the families,    with the drafting of the instrumento delli futuri sponsaliti,    recognising the future marriage to come


      the matrimonium:    the ring day, where the couple met, were questioned, the contract read    aloud, and the marriage vows exchanged (the verba de praesenti)


      the nozze:    public promulgation of the marriage, dowry payment completed, and    consummation assumed




One thing which may    startle modern traditionalists is that the marriage process could be very    secular. The formal documentation of contracts, dowries and the like could    well be undertaken by notaries and written banns were posted at public    marketplaces. Even the exchange of vows was, for a long time, typically held    outside the doors of the church, with a Mass taking place afterwards.




The Banns of Agnes and Elen




In the    "brief" for the banns, Agnes mentioned that they wanted some kind    of proclamation to announce a Canterbury Faire celebration for the wedding    (which was planned for a few months later). We thought about making three    heraldic announcements over the three days from the Faire's opening, but that    seem a bit much, so the idea of one written proclamation of the banns,    followed by some kind of contract theatrics on the celebration night started    to take shape.




I started researching    banns and how they could be applied to meet Agnes and Elen's aims. Here's    what we came up with.




Broadside Banns #1




I had planned to    produce a set of daily newsbooks (http://webcentre.co.nz/kk/%E2%80%9DCFNewsbooks.htm%E2%80%9D ) for Canterbury Faire.    Here was an additional push to get them done, as I could put one proclamation    in the Monday broadside, acting as both a bann and as an invitation for    people to attend the Tuesday evening party.




Banns of Wedlock




Herein is proclaimed    for the first time of asking the banns between Lady Agnes ðe Kyrri and Elena    Sophia Luciano de Medici, both residing in the Barony of Southron Gaard. If    any know cause or just impediment why these persons should not be joined    together in wedlock, ye are to declare it at the Impalmamento to be held at    the Marquee on the Feast Day of Saint Marcella being the last day of    Januarie from the hour of eight or thereabouts. Should there be no lawful    objection, the Impalmamento shall be followed thereafter by a Sponsalia    celebration, wherein all members of the populace are welcome to come raise a    glass and wish the happy couple well for the matrimonium some three months    hence.




This announcement was    based on the standard wording of the banns from the Book of Common Prayer    issued by Edward VI (and they are still proclaimed in much the same form).




Impalmamento and    Sponsalia




The TI article    (Autum 2000, No 136) of Maestra Clare de Estepa on http://insanehobby.150m.com/clare/weddings.html">Weddings in    Renaissance Italy provided inspiration for adding a few Italian    touches to the celebration, in recognition of Elena.




I wrote what, in    effect, was a script for how the whole thing could go, based on the research    and what Agnes had described, thus:




The party move forward    through the crowd, with the vexillators carrying standards, and the herald    crying for attention, followed by the ladies and their attendants. A table,    the contract and pen are "on stage".




Herald: As per the canons and    as set down by the worthies of the Council of Trent, know that this    Impalmamento is to witness the contract for the celebration of forthcoming    matrimony and is to be recognised without the threefold proclamation which    they call matrimonial banns.




Herald: And that the aforesaid    contract is between Lady Agnes ðe Kyrri and Elena Sophia Luciano de Medici,    residing within the Barony of Southron Gaard.




Herald: As that is it known    that persons of honest, worshipful and honourable calling may necessarily    and reasonably have occasions sometimes to proclaim the intent to wed for    the banns' asking, or for once or twice without any great harm, so for    avoiding generally of inconveniences noted in this behalf it is thought    expedient that no dispensations be granted for such without banns but under    this instrumento delli futuri sponsaliti and through the payment of    sufficient and large bonds, with these conditions following.




Herald: To wit the aforesaid    persons both now allege.




Herald: (holds up one    finger) Imprimus.    That there shall not afterwards appear any lawful let or impediment, by    reason of any pre-contract, consanguinity, affinity, lack of consent, vow of    celibacy, or any other lawful means whatsoever.




Herald: (holds up two    fingers) Secundus. That there be not at this present time of granting such    dispensation, any suit, plaint, quarrel or demand, moved or depending before    any judge ecclesiastical or temporal, for or concerning any such lawful    impediment between such the parties.




At this point we had a    conscientious objector, the helpful Lady Jadwiga, announce from the back    that she objected. She started to make her way to the front and was promptly    hustled out of view by two of the burlier attendants. I did suggest the    possibility of an actual duel….




Herald: Ahem (holds up three    fingers) ….Tertius. That said parties proceed not to the solemnization    of wedlock without consent of parents or governors, the which may be waived    if either is widowed or of an age above 14 years.




Looks inquiringly at    ladies, who nod enthusiastically. Herald continues to speak as ladies step    forward to sign the contract. Once signed, ladies shake hands in Italian    style.




Herald: Let it be known that    this matrimonial bond shall be solemnized openly at a convenient time, as    per verbo de futuro, that time being set down for Passion Sunday    next, to wit the first day of April. 
Hip, hip…




Populace: Huzzah!




Herald: And know that being    persons of good repute, the ladies provide a copy of this contract and a    bond set at no less than 50 golden florins to be held in the safe-keeping of    the Baron and Baroness of Southron Gaard that none may say them nay.




If I spotted it    rightly, Her Excellency received a copy of the contract, and the ladies    passed around chocolates. A copy of the contract was duly posted on the wall    of the Mong for public display. The people who gathered around seemed to    have enjoyed the theatre and the nature of the occasion.




Broadside Report




I prepared a report on    the Impalmamento and Sponsalia for the Wednesday broadside, which also    formed the basis for the final signed contract.




I had hunted down some    examples of published banns, to get an idea for the language used. I managed    to find some examples listed in Cromwell's Parish Registers of England.




The twelth day of    Februarie in the yeare abovesaid Stephen Browne and Jeane Simmons both of    Westerliegh in the County of Glouc. being Three severall markett daies    published in the Markett place between the hours of Eleavn of the clocke and    Two of the clocke according to the Act and noe objection made to the    contrary were married before John Gostlett Esq r , Justice of the peace.




1654, from Cromwell,    The Parish Registers of England




Admittedly they were a    little late for SCA use (1654, 1657), but I felt that they at least provided    a model for a draft version, as well as evidence that the marketplace was    considered a suitable place to display the banns.




Know that the Lady    Agnes ðe Kyrri and Elena Sophia Luciano de Medici, both of the Barony of    Southron Gaard in the Crescent Isles of the Kingdom of Lochac having signed    a contract yester e'en to wedde and said contract being publyshed in the    publick meeting place upon the last daie of Januarie ASXLVI in the reign of    Their Maiesties Siridean and Margie of Glen More and noe objection made to    the contrarie are henceforth in verba de futuro set to celebrayte their    matrimonial bonde on Passion Sundae next.




And on the occaysion of    the said impalmamento was a sponsalia held with feasting and trumpets and    much mirthe with frolicks, besides mixt dancing (a thing heretofore    accounted profane) till late of the clock.




And that formed the    basis for the actual scribed contract. I wanted to keep away from using the    term license, as that tends to have a specific modern legal sense associated    directly with marriage, and our focus was on the older sense as when in use    alongside the waiving of the banns.




The format was based on    a couple of documents which I provided as examples. Agnes liked the    simplicity of this one ( http://webcentre.co.nz/kk/%E2%80%9D ) and the large    initial letter on this letter patent.( http://webcentre.co.nz/kk/%E2%80%9D ) I produced three    drafts forms using different fonts to provide a variety of looks (Wir    Wenzslaw, Ludovicus, Aquiline) which would be acceptable for a scribed    document from the mid-1500s, with an Italian edge. The final one was done in    Ludovicus.









The Banns; ed Douglas Sugano, http://www.lib.rochester.edu/camelot/teams/sdntbfrm.htm




The Canons of 1584. http://www.owenfamilyhistory.net/ParishReg.html">http://www.owenfamilyhistory.net/ParishReg.html




The Collected Works of William Shakespeare    His Life and Times,    http://www.dlhoffman.com/publiclibrary/Shakespeare/life.html




To Have and to Hold: Marriage in    Pre-Modern Europe, 1200-1700






Medieval and Renaissance Marriage: Theory    and Customs  http://celyn.drizzlehosting.com/mrwp/mrwed.html




The Parish Registers of England Thomas    Cromwell; Metheun 1910






The True Contract of Marriage between Q.    Mary and James Duke of Orknay, Earl Boithvile etc;  from John Hosack;  Mary    Queen of Scots and her accusers etc; pg 557-561    http://books.google.co.nz/books?id=XbRCAAAAYAAJ&;pg=PA575&dq=bond+bothwell+mary+1567&lr=&as_drrb_is=q&as_minm_is=0&as_miny_is=&as_maxm_is=0&as_maxy_is=&num=100&as_brr=3&cd=29&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=bond%20bothwell%20mary%201567&f=false




Weddings in Renaissance Italy, Maestra    Clare de Estepa; Tournaments    Illuminated Autumn 2000, Issue #136 AS XXXV.






Copyright 2010 by Vicki Hyde. vicki at webcentre.co.nz.    Permission is granted for republication in SCA-related publications,    provided the author is credited.  Addresses change, but a reasonable attempt    should be made to ensure that the author is notified of the publication and    if possible receives a copy.




If this article is reprinted    in a publication, I would appreciate a notice in the publication that you    found this article in the Florilegium. I would also appreciate an email to    myself, so that I can track which articles are being reprinted. Thanks.    -Stefan.




<the end>


Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
All other copyrights are property of the original article and message authors.

Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org