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Old 11-18-2012, 01:59 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by angeliz2k View Post
My impression is that male-female relationships of that time would be one-sided and possessive.
Not necessarily. This is before the time I'm most familiar with; but in later Germanic-influenced cultures women had more rights in a relationship, even one where the woman wasn't married to the man, than they did during later more Christianized times.

If your characters are not Germanic and are instead Celtic, their women often had had even greater rights. Depending on the time period and country.



The reason it was called the Dark Ages (I've got no problem with that term) is that it was "Dark" to the Victorian historians. It happened between the written records left by the Romans and when written records started up again after Christian Missionaries arrived in Britian. So they didn't have much idea what had happened then.


In the 1060s, way after your time period, Jarl Harold Godwinsson, who later briefly became King Harold II, was married "in the Danish manner" to his wife Edith Swannesha (gentle swan). This was a legally recognized civil marriage and the children were legitimate; but it was not recognized by the church. Just an aside to give you another perspective.

(See how easy that was 1000 years ago? /digression into modern politics)



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Originally Posted by Alessandra Kelley View Post
"Leman," although obscure, seems to be the concept you are talking about.
I like leman.
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Old 11-18-2012, 02:28 AM   #27
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There was a germanic and Saxon relationship which was legally recognized, children would be legitimate, and the woman retained standing and consented to the state - the word for this was a friedelehe. I have seen this used on the UK side of the Channel, by Parke Godwin, in the just-post-Norman period, and the relation dates to Late Antiquity. I used it myself in Gaul in the late 5th century period. A friedelehe did not endure the stigma a word like "concubine" connotes, and it was far from a casual "lover" relationhsip. The relationship was recognized and committed, and FREELY entered into by both parties.

Here is the entry I wrote on friedelehe in my author's note: "A concubine with acknowledged status, lacking the full rights of a wife, but holding a legally defined position both with the man to whom she voluntarily bound herself thus, and in his household. Her children would have been legitimate, able to inherit, and would have been viable heirs..."
For the Anglish anachronists amongst us, you would end up with frea-in-law.

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Old 11-18-2012, 02:34 AM   #28
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Originally Posted by ULTRAGOTHA View Post
Not necessarily. This is before the time I'm most familiar with; but in later Germanic-influenced cultures women had more rights in a relationship, even one where the woman wasn't married to the man, than they did during later more Christianized times.

[...]

In the 1060s, way after your time period, Jarl Harold Godwinsson, who later briefly became King Harold II, was married "in the Danish manner" to his wife Edith Swannesha (gentle swan). This was a legally recognized civil marriage and the children were legitimate; but it was not recognized by the church. Just an aside to give you another perspective.
There's Kathleen Herbert's Peace-Weavers and Shield-Maidens about this time and place. It's been criticized, but I think it's an interesting read. She says basically what you do: women in pre-Christian Saxon cultures had much more power and status than they did later on. But I have to note: always in relationship to the functions they served men.

I don't know much about post-Roman British culture, but in the same time period roughly over in Ireland, men could have multiple wives who all had similar status together.

And just as an aside, because the whole Godwinsson family is just fascinating to me, Cnut the Great had two wives. His first wife Aelgifu was who he set aside to marry Emma, Aethelred's widow (and whose English name, interestingly, was also Aelgifu). He didn't have both women as wives concurrently, at least not in whatever official capacity the Church recognized. But both women had sons who became kings of various parts of Cnut's empire. And then Godwin himself is another interesting guy. This is a total derail, but I find the whole time period fascinating. I'm love to see more novels about these interesting people.
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Old 11-19-2012, 03:11 AM   #29
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There's Kathleen Herbert's Peace-Weavers and Shield-Maidens about this time and place. It's been criticized, but I think it's an interesting read. She says basically what you do: women in pre-Christian Saxon cultures had much more power and status than they did later on. But I have to note: always in relationship to the functions they served men.
Oh, yes. Not total equality or anything. But they owned their own land, could buy and sell it, run businesses, make wills to people other than their spouses, had guaranteed inheritance rights from their husbands or fathers, could divorce and could obtain custody of children. Even concubines (by whatever name) had certain rights in a relationship. But yes, in relationship to the man.


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I don't know much about post-Roman British culture, but in the same time period roughly over in Ireland, men could have multiple wives who all had similar status together.
One question for the OP is WHEN in post-Roman Britain and WHERE is s/he writing? Should we be looking at Welsh relationships? Saxon? Celtic? Scottish (or what was in where Scotland is now)? Descendents of the Romans? Native Britons?

OK, that's two or eight questions.
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Old 11-19-2012, 04:07 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by ULTRAGOTHA View Post
Oh, yes. Not total equality or anything. But they owned their own land, could buy and sell it, run businesses, make wills to people other than their spouses, had guaranteed inheritance rights from their husbands or fathers, could divorce and could obtain custody of children. Even concubines (by whatever name) had certain rights in a relationship. But yes, in relationship to the man.
Definitely more rights and freedoms than English women after the Norman invasion
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Old 11-19-2012, 02:17 PM   #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ULTRAGOTHA View Post
One question for the OP is WHEN in post-Roman Britain and WHERE is s/he writing? Should we be looking at Welsh relationships? Saxon? Celtic? Scottish (or what was in where Scotland is now)? Descendents of the Romans? Native Britons?

OK, that's two or eight questions.
The story spans from approx 488-523. Welsh Post-Roman British people. Some of the characters may be descended from the Romans but the vast majority will consider themselves British/Cymry.

Wow - this thread just keeps on going. Every time I come back to it, there are more great information-filled posts. Thankyou, people!
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Old 11-19-2012, 07:30 PM   #32
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The story spans from approx 488-523. Welsh Post-Roman British people. Some of the characters may be descended from the Romans but the vast majority will consider themselves British/Cymry.

Wow - this thread just keeps on going. Every time I come back to it, there are more great information-filled posts. Thankyou, people!
Ah, so not Saxon then. This is just before the Saxons started invading Kent, which is where my earliest area of interest begins. That knocks me out.

I still like leman, though.
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Old 11-20-2012, 04:09 AM   #33
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Leman was a Norman import, it would be anachronistic to the period. And friedelehe is Germanic, so definitely inappropriate as well.

You might try to swing from some of the sources noted here to see what you can find on traditions predating Welsh law (still several centuries post your period).
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Old 11-20-2012, 06:56 AM   #34
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See? And my area of interest ends on December 25th, 1066. Je ne parle Norman. Ewww Normans have cooties!
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