Among upper classes, marriages were still arranged between people of similar levels of wealth and social status.
The concept of chivalry, or romantic ideals, arrived later in the Middle Ages with knights (some possibly on white horses) and troubadours (traveling poets/musicians) who tried to win their women’s hearts through brave deeds, poetry, and singing beneath balconies (the story of Romeo and Juliet is set in 15-century Italy).Courtship was a way for a woman to secure her position in life and ensure security for her children; for a man, it was a career move.He could amass great wealth simply by choosing well, as his wife’s property transferred to him once they married.Balls and dances were common ways for young Victorian women to be introduced to society.In order to court a young lady, a gentleman followed strict protocol.How did your grandparents and great-grandparents court and fall in love?These days, couples in Western countries usually date casually — though online matchmaking has recently changed the face of dating and courtship dramatically — but traditionally, there were formal courtship rituals that evolved over the ages.During the difficult economic era of the Depression, many couples remained engaged for several years, wanting to wait until they were self-supporting before marrying. In contrast, the WWII era saw many couples get married on the spur of the moment, or after only a very short courtship, as men went off to war. This haste probably contributed to a very sharp increase in the divorce rate right after the war. A man courted a woman by putting her wants and desires first.The emphasis was on passion and romance; we still talk about a man being chivalrous when he holds open a door for a woman or helps her into a car (or onto a horse).