Historical Age of Marriage in Western Countries

age of marriage during biblical times

it is ironic that christian missionaries attack prophet muhammad (peace be upon him) for his marrying aisha (peace be upon her) at such a young age, but we find that this was the normal age of marriage during biblical times. theology.edu, a website maintained by a reputable christian ministry, clearly mentions in an article entitled “ancient israelite marriage customs” that the age of marriage was around the age of puberty:

the wife was to be taken from within the larger family circle (usually at the outset of puberty or around the age of 13) in order to maintain the purity of the family line.

(jim west, thd; http://www.theology.edu/marriage.htm)

in the book entitled life in biblical israel, a christian priest writes:

it is safe to assume the bride was considerably younger than the groom, and childbearing would have begun shortly after puberty.

(life in biblical israel, p.58,

http://books.google.com.pk/books?id=otohypzz_pec&dq=life+in+biblical+isra el&pg=pp1&ots=k_uryl4rgv&sig=gbih8wi_fnki7ta9nmra9m3lclo&prev=ht tp://www.google.com.pk/search?hl=en&q=life+in+biblical+israel+&btng=goo gle+search&sa=x&oi=print&ct=title&cad=one-book-with-thumbnail#ppr2,m1)

in the book ancient jewish epitaphs, we read:

for jewish women—as for women in antiquity generally—marriage was often entered into early. we do not have many inscriptions recording the age at which women were married, but the few who record it mention ages ranging from 12...

(ancient jewish epitaphs, p.103-104, http://books.google.com/books?id=f549xlux9dqc&pg=pa104&lpg=pa104&dmi q=average+age+of+marriage+ancient&source=web&ots=yzzvyi4ok6&sig=jm umao3ygrnyqfvlocshcuqdfd8#ppa103,m1)

age of marriage in rome

according to about.com:

in ancient rome…young girls were often married off when they were between the ages of twelve and fourteen.

(about.com, http://marriage.about.com/cs/teenmarriage/a/teenmarriage.htm)

in the book entitled the age of marriage in ancient rome, we read:

traditionally in pre-modern societies, aafm [age at first marriage] for girls corresponded with the visible onset of puberty. in these early societies, high mortality rates demanded an offsetting high-birth rate. as a result, younger marriages were required to facilitate population growth.

(the age of marriage in ancient rome,


in a scholarly article about the roman empire, we read that marriage would oftentimes precede the onset of puberty:

durry (1955a/b/c, 1956)[48] had argued that roman girls were married before puberty, that puberty was not important in fixing the age of marriage, and that such early marriages were consummated before puberty

taking into consideration epigraphic and literary material, hopkinsconcludes that "[w]hether pre-pubertal or not, girl's age at marriage was by our standards very young and marriages were generally immediately consummated"

at least one author believed that a girl "should be married and deflowered as soon as she reaches puberty (i.e., the socially determined age of puberty)… "

psychohistorians[66] cite rouselle (1988:p33) in arguing that roman misconceptions about the hymen "could only be the result of girls being deflowered before puberty", being lawfully married before puberty.

(janssen, d.f.; oct 2002. g.u.s.. volume i: world reference atlas. interim report. amsterdam, the netherlands, http://www2.huberlin.de/sexology/gesund/archiv/gus/historychhs.htm#_toc26337172)

in the article “the age of roman girls at marriage”, we read:

in fact menarche (onset of menses) was not always a pre-condition of marriage; nevertheless marriages were usually consummated immediately…they (prepubertal marriages) were not exceptional and were condoned.

(the age of roman girls at marriage, http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0032-



the age of seven was in vogue:

around ad 530, and at least as far back as the reign of augustus, the legal minimum age of marriage for girls was 12 and for boys 14 (hopkins, p313n22)…at least for the aristocracy, early ages are frequently mentioned. betrothal could take place within a poorly defined period before this age; at least it must be assumed that a minimum legal age of seven was in vogue (p313n23)[49] … plutarche (historian, philosopher), and soranus (doctor, practising at rome), both greeks, implied that early marriage (12 or before) and defloration would occur…

(janssen, d.f.; oct 2002. g.u.s.. volume i: world reference atlas. interim report. amsterdam, the netherlands, http://www2.huberlin.



the islamaphobe’s glass house hashimi the great roman leader augustus fixed the minimum age of marriage at ten years old:

roman children of the aristocracy married youngest (hopkins, 1965:316ff; 1983[57]:p94; weaver, 1986:p156)[58]. roman marriage arrangements usually began with a betrothal, which was possible before age ten[59], at least in the case of the aristocracy, or when political gains were in vogue (balsdon, p87, 275n18)[60]. augustus (ad 9) had fixed the minimum age at ten (rawson, 1986:p21)[61]…

(janssen, d.f.; oct 2002. g.u.s.. volume i: world reference atlas. interim report. amsterdam, the netherlands, http://www2.huberlin.



age of marriage in greece

in the ancient greek civilization, the time to marry was at the onset of puberty:

flacelière (59) also mentioned that girls could marry as soon as puberty hit.

(daily life in greeceat the time of pericles, http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0075-

4269(1966)86%3c250%3adligat%3e2.0.co%3b2-w , http://www.richeast.org/htwm/greeks/marriage/marriage.html )

womenintheancientworld.com says:

athenian men married out of a sense of civic duty and put off the fateful day until the age of 30 or more, at which time they married girls of half their age whose youth made them more easily controlled.

(womanintheancientworld.com, http://www.womenintheancientworld.com/women%20in%20ancient%20egypt.htm)

age of marriage in christian europe

in an article about medieval times, molloycollege’s website says:

women were marriageable right after puberty, marriage arrangements were made while they were in infancy; they were wed at the age of twelve or fourteen to men in their twenties or thirties.

(molloycollege, http://www.molloy.edu/sophia/med_ren/med_text.htm)

puberty was linked to virginity, a highly sought after quality. we read in judith m.

bennet’s book singlewomen in the european past:

as anthony molho persuasively illustrates, the cultural imperative to marry young women soon after they reached sexual maturity even prompted many florentine fathers to falsify their daughters' ages to give them more time to negotiate a favorable marriage.

(singlewomen in the european past, p.44, http://books.google.com/books?id=l6ynq4uuvz0c&pg=pa44&lpg=pa44&dq=

nobility+married+early&source=web&ots=k6cd_rpnnc&sig=rug6zifredsm fakkjpiboksd2ki)

the history at minnesotawebsite indicates that the average age of marriage just 500

years ago was only 12.7 (http://www.hist.umn.edu/~rmccaa/nahuaen3/outline.htm)

this is an average, meaning that many girls were getting married much younger than that. why then are the christians up in arms about prophet muhammad (peace be upon him) who married aisha (peace be upon her) more than 1,400 years ago?

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