Ah, the Victorian Age… You may have thought being named after—and presided over by—a strong female monarch like Queen Victoria — might have done something to soften the naked masculinity of the time. This was the age of muscular Christianity, the age in which the western male came to dominate and subjugate through industry and empire; the age, in short, in which men were real men, women were real men; even the children were real men. But brute masculinity was only one side of the coin. The Victorians were also romantics, albeit in a rigidly regulated way. Like every human civilisation since the dawn of time, they recognised the amorous aspects of courtship while managing to cloak their fundamental need to reproduce as a species with a series of bizarre rituals. What makes the Victorians so unique is just how stringent these rituals were: essentially resembling rules and regulations you were obliged to adhere to when in pursuit of your amor. As you can imagine, for the middle and upper classes this made dating a minefield. Restrictive formality dictated every interaction you had with your potential match, meaning you really had to watch what you said and how you said it. But there was at least some rationale behind the proscriptive values of Victorian courtship: to uphold the values they believed propped up their civilisation. For young men and women, having to navigate a dating culture that required them to act a certain way meant self-help books were all the rage.
Victorian era dating rules
From please and thank you to knowing which fork to use at a dinner party, manners are important. But back when etiquette reigned supreme, there were more than a few dos and don’ts that now seem utterly insane. The British manual, The Habits of Good Society: A Handbook of Etiquette for Ladies and Gentlemen , says that a proper lady should only accept one glass of champagne — anything more or less would be improper. A woman was expected to look fresh, polished, and composed for her husband at all times.
In Victorian terms, that meant her hair must be worn up , except when in the privacy of her bed chamber.
The year Victoria became queen of England was the official beginning of the Victorian Era. Women were often forced to adhere to rigid rules about their appearance; Fashion Courtship was the dating period that occurred before marriage.
The rules and suggestions for courtship and romance occupy most of the space in Victorian etiquette and letter writing books. There are usually flowery forms for written proposals from the suitor as well as a plethora of gushing acceptances from the bride-elect. Near the end of the section there is generally one curt letter of refusal to a marriage proposal. Usually the tone of the letter is vague and contains assurances that the honored lady thanks the gentleman for his offer but she cannot accept his proposal.
The Victorian precept that a lady “never explains or complains” is followed rigidly. To readers today the index titles for these letters sound wildly humorous. Consider the titles “Refusal on the grounds of dislike”, “Refusal on the grounds of unsteadiness of the suitor”, and “Refusal on the grounds that the suitor is much younger than herself”. Upon careful thought, however, these letters can be seen to be sober testimony to the general tenor of society in the third quarter of nineteenth century America.
The short paragraph headed “Refusal on the grounds of dislike” is important information to a historian today for what it reveals about the life of men in That such a letter was not absurd to include in a serious work is mute testimony to the number of young men who “failed” in the world. The contents of the letter are brief:. The man who assisted in effecting a brother’s ruin, is not a suitable partner for his sister; and a moment’s reflection might have convinced you that your agency in the matter to which I allude, has earned for you, not the love, but the unchangeable dislike of Further evidence that young men of America were going “astray” is found in the letter entitled “Refusal on the grounds of unsteadiness of the suitor”: “Sir.
Women in the Victorian era
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Dating in the Victorian era in America and in Britain meant navigating through a This is sound advice regardless of the era you live in, right?
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Victorian Periodicals Review
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When it came to age, most brides and grooms would have been in their mids. Around the time that Victoria ascended the throne, new laws came into force regulating how her subjects Set the right date for the big day.
The Victorian era could be a frustrating time to be young and in love, since the rigid constraints of social convention often meant that your every move was checked by a chaperone. Polite conversation about the weather can only get you so far, so many young and not-so-young lovers came up with ingenious ways to pursue their love affairs.
If you’re looking for a way to spice up your own romance, you might take a cue from these 19th century sweethearts—just make sure the object of your admiration has the same etiquette guide. The Victorians were avid letter-writers, with some areas of London having the mail delivered up to seven times a day , meaning that a note could be written, mailed, and delivered within the space of a few hours. A letter could be the perfect way of approaching the object of your desire, but the vagaries of Victorian manners often made the correct approach difficult to master.
As a result, numerous manuals were published that provided template letters for first-time correspondents.
10 Strange Dating Tips From the Victorian Era
You handle awkward situations involving the same age is that whole new set of age can be spent on the latest ourtime. If you want. Interruptions are a time. Victorian era courtship rules are the dating advice for themselves in a dutiful wife and marriage like.
Courtship is the traditional dating period before engagement and marriage (or long term courtship is a highly structured activity, with very specific formal rules.
Glancing through the extensive How-to-find-Mr-Right section in a bookshop, the last thing you’d think single women needed was another self-help volume. Particularly one beamed straight from the Victorian era, when women were groomed to be nothing more than fragile wallflowers. But now, an advice manual for 19th-century single ladies is being reprinted and its publishers say modern women can learn from it.
The British Library discovered in its archives Advice to Single Women , written – by a man – in , and was surprised to find how relevant his pearls of wisdom are for contemporary relationships. Little is known about the author, Haydn Brown, but it seems he had women’s interests at heart. Despite marriage in the s being deemed to be a young woman’s most important career move, he seemed intent on relieving them of the urgency.
Don’t rush, he advised, wait until you are at least
My Dearest: Love and Courtship in the Gilded Age
People lived to an average age of just 40 in 19th-century England, but that number is deceiving. Certainly, infants and children died of disease, malnutrition and mishaps at much higher rates than they do today. But if a girl managed to survive to adulthood, her chance of living to a ripe old age of 50, 60, 70 or even older was quite good. These odds only increased as the century progressed and improvements in sanitation, nutrition and medical care lengthened Victorian lifespans.
At the end of the 18th century, the average age of first marriage was 28 years old for men and 26 years old for women. Patterns varied depending on social and economic class, of course, with working-class women tending to marry slightly older than their aristocratic counterparts.
He’s breaking about 50 courtship etiquette rules. Hulton Archive/Getty Images. During the Victorian Age, the English prided themselves on being more liberal.
Where would we be without romance? What was courtship and marriage like for our distant ancestors? Beginning with the ancient Greeks’ recognition of the need to describe more than one kind of love, inventing the word eros to describe carnal love, and agape to mean a spiritual love, take a stroll back through romantic heritage with this timeline of romantic customs, dating rituals, and tokens of love.
In ancient times, many of the first marriages were by capture, not choice — when there was a scarcity of nubile women, men raided other villages for wives. Frequently the tribe from which a warrior stole a bride would come looking for her, and it was necessary for the warrior and his new wife to go into hiding to avoid being discovered. According to an old French custom, as the moon went through all its phases the couple drank a brew called metheglin, which was made from honey.
Hence, we get the word, honeymoon. From buying a woman dinner to opening a door for her, many of today’s courting rituals are rooted in medieval chivalry. During medieval times, the importance of love in a relationship emerged as a reaction to arranged marriages but was still not considered a prerequisite in matrimonial decisions. Suitors wooed their intended with serenades and flowery poetry, following the lead of lovelorn characters on stage and in verse.
Chastity and honor were highly regarded virtues.
Victorian era courtship rules and marriage facts
The Victorian period is also regarded as the era of Romanticism. In those days, courtship was considered to be a tradition and was very popular. Queen Victoria and her family were the idols of the Victorian society, even in the case of courtship. The society had laid down some stringent rules for courting and these had to be followed.
In Britain, leading the charge was Queen Victoria and Prince Albert who were both determined to rid the court of the excesses of the Georgian era, and every date like Cinderella’s ball, only that you didn’t lose your slipper.
The Victorians have a reputation for being prim, proper and persnickety. As a member of the upper class in Victorian England during the reign of Queen Victoria , , one had to know the exhaustive rules of etiquette that went along with one’s position. Today, many of these rules seem arbitrary and silly: Does it really matter the order in which dinner party guests enter the dining room?
At the time it did, because such social niceties constituted basic manners and politeness. Of course, some etiquette rules were arbitrary, but they were nonetheless functional. Every society has such rules — like whether to drive on the right or left side of the street — to establish expectations and keep things running smoothly. In the Victorian Era, etiquette lubricated the mechanism of social exchange: There were rules for making new friends, keeping up with old friends and even cutting out morally dubious friends.
But most importantly, knowing the rules helped one show respect for everyone else, including servants, acquaintances, nobility and clergy. But such rules could go too far. It was evident to many even then — social critics of the time popularly mocked the more ridiculous elements of Victorian society. The magazine “Punch” published cartoons of farcical social scenes, and the satirist W.
Lilly Library exhibition analyzes dating etiquette over time
And for good reason — for centuries, strategically planned marriages allowed the wealthy and elite to retain their social standing, property and family businesses for generations. Marrying for love was pure fantasy and relegated to works of popular fiction. Respectable behavior and strict courtship rituals were the hallmarks of Victorian romance.
Absolutely no physical contact was allowed until the couple became engaged, and gifts were limited to impersonal gestures like flowers, chocolate or a book. Emotional intimacy was expressed primarily through love letters.
Do we need new rules for dating? By the Victorian era, men and women could not talk to each other without being formally introduced and.
The status of women in the Victorian era was often seen as an illustration of the striking discrepancy between the United Kingdom’s national power and wealth and what many, then and now, consider its appalling social conditions. During the era symbolized by the reign of British monarch Queen Victoria , women did not have the right to vote, sue, or own property.
At the same time, women participated in the paid workforce in increasing numbers following the Industrial Revolution. Feminist ideas spread among the educated middle classes, discriminatory laws were repealed, and the women’s suffrage movement gained momentum in the last years of the Victorian era. In the Victorian era, women were seen, by the middle classes at least, as belonging to the domestic sphere , and this stereotype required them to provide their husbands with a clean home, to put food on the table and to raise their children.
Women’s rights were extremely limited in this era, losing ownership of their wages, all of their physical property, excluding land property, and all other cash they generated once married.