ROYAL MARRIAGES IN THE MIDDLE AGES: WHAT WERE THEY HIDING?

Today we bring to the blog a little controversial post. We want to talk about the royal marriages of the Middle Ages, but not only from a historical point of view. We are going to analyze the details and secrets of all these marriages. Is everything as formal as it seems?

The truth is that among the nobility and royalty many bedroom secrets were kept that if they all came to light would not leave some kings in a very good place. In itself, marriages had to be arranged in order to obtain a political benefit that would facilitate their access to the throne (another rather tricky and complex issue). Therefore, most marriages ended up taking place between cousins or relatives, either close or distant.

Apart from all the problems of consanguinity that this entailed, there was also the need to request a dispensation or marriage bull from the Pope to request the validity of the marriage. In addition, the Pope was not always so permissive and liked to complicate the inheritance of the throne annulling marriages already accepted, and with descendants. This is the case of the parents of Ferdinand III, who after six and a half years of marriage and five children had to break their cohabitation because they lacked a papal dispensation.

As if that were not enough, there was another essential procedure: the ritual of bedding. It was a common practice in the Middle Ages, especially among royalty, which consisted of accompanying the newlyweds to the bedchamber to attest that the contract had been signed by consummating the marriage. Often, it was the men invited to the wedding who carried the bride to bed they undressed her. Once in bed, the bishop would bless the couple.

Imagine being the bride and groom, two people who barely knew each other, in most cases contractually obliged to perform this marriage, often teenagers or children, especially brides, and who were forced to perform the sexual act while often being listened to by clergymen, notaries and various other characters who remained behind the door. Sometimes, they even stayed in the room - almost no pressure on the couple!

Numerous are the kings who hide in their bedchambers much more than they would like. If you want to find out more about these royal love affairs, keep on reading.

First of all, there is Pedro I. Considering the background of his father (Alfonso XI), who had 10 children with his mistress, we could expect nothing less from his son.

During all his reign he was at war with his bastard half-brother Enrique, offspring of his father's second relationship, who disputed the throne until he snatched it from him.

He married Blanca de Borbón, coming from France, in search of filling the empty coffers of the kingdom with an important dowry, as established in the marriage contract. However, France did not fulfill its part of the contract and Pedro locked Blanca up. This poor girl, who was only 13 years old, went from becoming queen of Castile to being locked up for the rest of her life. After 10 years, Pedro had her killed, without having consummated the marriage and without descendants despite the insistence of France and the clergy.

But hold on, there is more to come. By this time, Pedro had fallen in love with María de Padilla, with whom he lives in the Alcázar of Seville and played the role of queen. Belonging to a noble family, he married her in secret and they had three daughters and a son.

To make matters worse, he also married Juana de Castro after his marriage to Blanca is declared null and void. Surely Pedro lamented on occasion that the Catholic religion only allowed him to have one wife and not several like the Nasrid kings. 

As it is seen that Pedro did not find it enough and it was difficult for him to repress his passions, he went to harass María Coronel. Not content with having killed her father and husband as traitors to the crown, he tried to possess and rape her. He pursued her with eagerness until she, in desperation, poured boiling oil on her face until she was disfigured. It is seen that it worked because the king left her in peace and returned all his goods, with which she founded the Convent of Santa Inés. He also took advantage of Maria's sister, Aldonza Coronel.

It is also said that he had children with at least 4 other women.

Another king known for his "lightness" is Philip IV. With a very long reign of up to 44 years, he left the government in the hands of the Count Duke of Olivares during his first years to devote himself to pleasures. He made no distinction with respect to the social class of his mistresses, among which we can find married, widows, single, nuns, actresses, maidens or ladies of the high nobility. Another characteristic of Philip IV was the short duration of his relationships.  

It is said that he was "a Hercules for pleasure and an impotent for government". It is estimated that he had up to 40 bastards. The best known was Juan José of Austria, son of the actress María Calderón, who had more and better dowries than any of the heirs.

We also have Ferdinand VII, known by many as the Felon King. Indeed, as you hear.

This is because he suffered from genital macrosomia, in other words, he had a huge phallus. This genital anomaly caused him numerous problems to leave descendants. Relationships were so difficult that after four wives, he was only able to procreate with one, María Cristina de Borbón-Dos Sicilias.

For this, the queen asked for an artifact that would make consummation possible. It was a perforated doughnut-shaped pad to act as a stopper. Despite his marriages, Ferdinand VII led a dissolute life between night outings to brothels and visits of prostitutes to the palace, with the consequent humiliation of his wives. He even seems to have bragged about the virgins he brought to the palace and collected rags that testified to his deflowering.

Finally we have a queen, Elizabeth II. Being a woman did not free her from lust. She was forced to marry Francisco de Asís de Borbón, of whom she said he wore more lace than she did on her wedding night. It seemed that he liked men more than the queen herself. As a result of this failed marriage, the queen threw herself into passion.

Her greatest detractors portrayed her as an unleashed nymphomaniac. There are several illustrations about her of pornographic satirical character collected in a book attributed to the Bécquer brothers. She was even portrayed fornicating with a horse.

       

However, not all royal marriages were disastrous. A great example is Charles I and Isabel of Portugal. It is said that they experienced such a crush upon seeing each other that they married two hours after they met. Although perhaps the fact that King Charles was going to be excommunicated the following day and that his sister had died the day before, a fact hidden to facilitate the wedding, influenced the marriage to some extent.

That same night the marriage was consummated and the king, until then a skirt chaser and early riser, began to get up at 11:00 noon after long nights of love with his wife. Since the wedding, and throughout his widowhood, no lover of the emperor was known again.

Although it is true that the gossip stories attract more attention.

What about you? What do you think? Did you know these facts? Do you think the situation in current marriages is similar to the past? 

If you want to know more about the ins and outs of royal bedrooms, arranged marriages, brothels, rituals, forbidden sexual practices and seduction techniques in the Seville of the past, don't hesitate to sign up for our tour The Pleasures of Seville! More information at info@sevilla4real.com.

 

 

 

Information obtained from Real Academia de la Historia, Supercurioso and our own tour.

Photographies obtained from  ABC de Sevilla, Wikipedia, El Confidencial and Supercurioso.