Often we look at the Middle Ages through a shimmer of romanticism and see a world of knights in shining armor, chivalry and courtly love. But when it came to marriage, the medieval era was anything but romantic.
Basic human needs and desires don’t change. Love, trust and loyalty are key ingredients in a happy life, as is the security that comes from being warm, safe and well fed. The ease with which you accomplish the latter determines greatly how (or if) you gain the former.
Hence, land equals power, wealth and security. Consequently, for those with land (whether thousands of hectares or a dozen stripes in a field), marriage was a business arrangement to determine who of the next generation got the land and all that came with it.
Against this background, it was easy to make marriage the romantic conflict in my latest release, ENTHRALLED.
William of Ravenglas has been in love with Ami, a changeling raised as his sister, for as long as he can remember, but she’s been betrothed to an earl’s second son since before she could crawl.
The marriage represents a huge opportunity for the family. It allies them with a politically powerful earl and sets the stage for the family to move from being poor knights with a small holding to major landholders in England and France.
Not having Ami is slowly driving William mad, but he refuses to destroy his family’s future by claiming her. In response, Ami does her best to make it hard for him to live with his choice. She loves him, is frightened of marrying a man she doesn’t know, and is ready to gamble with the family’s fate if it means she gets William.
William fears that he will not be strong enough to give Ami over to her groom when the time comes, and she is terrified that he will be.
Here’s an excerpt that frames William’s mindset when it comes to Ami and marriage:
Ami turned to face William. Her cheeks were flushed with excitement, and her grin crinkled the corners of her eyes. His breath caught. His body tightened. She looked like a bride the morning after the ceremony.
“Do not be a fool, my friend. Keep her.”
Aedan’s beguiling words buzzed in William’s ears, tempting him, but William knew they offered a hollow promise. He had expectations to meet and responsibilities to bear. Land and people to protect. Lords to serve. Whatever his bloodlines, Aedan wasn’t raised among nobility. He had no idea of the sacrifices it required. The strength of his family provided food, clothing, and luxury goods for a hundred families, maybe more by now. Not even his life was his own to spend as he wished. He must wed for Ravenglas, fight for it, die for it.
“I will do as I must.”
Keena Kincaid writes historical romances in which passion, magic and treachery collide to create unforgettable stories. Her books are available from The Wild Rose Press, Amazon, and wherever ebooks are sold. You will also find her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter and visit her blog, Typos and All.