Birthrights & Braids

I’ve developed a serious obsession with the Middle Ages.  This goes beyond Shakespeare, which we all know holds an atrium in my heart.  Maybe it’s because I’m having serious Game of Thrones withdrawals or maybe it’s because I’m doing whatever I can do to avoid the fact that chokers and platform shoes are trying to sneak their way back into my life, but I am smitten.   I’m taken by the fashion, the poetry, the tradition, the marriages, the wars, the scandals, the birthrights, the families, the braids, all of it.  If it weren’t for the lack of AC and deodorant, I’d say I wish I were born in that era.  I’ve always had more of a renaissance figure anyway.

While I admire this time period of history, it’s also extremely eye opening to truly imagine what life was like.  When we sit around complaining that we are hot or hungry or stuck in traffic or that our friend hasn’t text us back yet, we are so beyond spoiled tiny monsters.  Correspondence took weeks, if not more.  There was no read receipt or confirmation system.  There was no immediate gratification.  No one sat by the mailbox with their arms crossed refusing to participate in life.  We have fans, and not the kind we have to wave in front of our own faces, and central air and electricity.  Can you imagine sitting in the back of a carriage bumping around all over the place for hours at a time without so much as a radio?  Tanktops and shorts weren’t a thing, ordering food on a whim wasn’t an option and I doubt anyone ever said ‘I’m hot’.  The days of swampass were in full effect.  It would be like someone saying ‘I’m cold’ in Chicago in January.  No shit.

From a women’s perspective, it wasn’t exactly a dream world.  I can’t say that I would have been thrilled at the idea of being bartered around like a stack of drug money for my hand in marriage.  I like to think I would have been a bit of a Jane Eyre and the ceremony would’ve been more than a mere business transaction, but who knows.  The things we do for family, huh?

Fun fact:  the wedding doubled as a first date for many couples which is where the origins of the veil come from.  The bride’s face was to be hidden until after the marriage was solidified so that the groom wouldn’t run away.  I mean, that is 50 shades of messed up.  Someone legit felt their daughter was ugly enough to literally send people running which is both horrifying and pessimistic.  At least send her down the aisle with a sign that says “I have a great personality”.  That poor girl.  What is this?! Phantom of the Opera?!  Speaking of which, no one seemed to be concerned about the bride’s feelings towards the groom.  No laced veil, grand reveal or parental insecurities there.  My eyes are currently rolling…hard.

After a wedding ceremony, the couple isn’t only expected to “seal the deal” so to speak, but they are prepared for the deed and watched as if it were a spectator sport.  I’m not sure privacy was really a concept held to heart at this time of age.  Sounds like the worst first date ever…and I’ve had some really bad first dates.  So this all happens like clockwork, which sounds more like an IKEA project than anything equating to romance.  Candles were present but on a technicality that candles were the only source of light after dark.  I’m just curious who the first couple was to be like ‘you know, with everyone standing around, this is hella awkward and we just met a few hours ago and she looks like she’s going to cry.  I know you usually watch, but let’s just try it.  Everybody out!’  Double clap and everyone filed out of the bedroom perplexed and appalled.  At least that is how I imagine the day voyeurism became avant-garde.

It was the woman’s duty, after all, to bear an heir to the throne.  So many women have a hard time getting pregnant as it is, so to think that for nine agonizing months their joy would be mixed with a hint of fear that they would birth a girl is crazy.  Their pregnancies were more about reign than anything else.  Talk about a burden.  And if she didn’t get pregnant, it was always her fault.  Which is enough to send me into a raging diatribe on double standards, but I’ll save that for another day.  You’re welcome.  Women were just about mad to be with child, hence Anne Boleyn.  Yeesh.  Now that family should have had a reality show- would’ve given the Kardashians a run for their money.

It intrigues me that people used to live that way and it intrigues me even more how different the world is now.  With the lack of toothpaste, makeup and soap, it’s no wonder masquerade balls were all the rage.  So you may think you’re standing still, but the world is constantly changing.  Food, art, communication, travel, even the desired body shape is different.  Although, I still have faith the renaissance woman will make a comeback!  We have it pretty good.  We fly in planes, we can listen to any song at any given moment, we have so many choices that weren’t always choices.  When I say it could always be worse, I’m not kidding. Keep your head up and keep fighting for what you want and what you believe and what inspires you and makes you feel alive…to the death.




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