Archiver > GEN-MEDIEVAL > 2009-08 > 1249828413

From: "M.Sjostrom" <>
Subject: Countess Sancha Fernandez wife of Count Froila Ramírez
Date: Sun, 9 Aug 2009 07:33:33 -0700 (PDT)

even knowing that criticism about hunches and opinions (...more convinced...) would tend to piss off their presenters, descendants of some Portuguese nobility, [who seem to repeat the cycle of huffing and puffing... if criticism is aired]
I still find it appropriate to present my thoughts about marriages between middle-tier nobility and highest nobility:

although high nobility often intermarried, there are clear signs that occasionally they also married with lower nobles.

In my view, the key often was wealth. A local noble may have -by favorable circumstances- become holder of a substantial wealth: extensive estates. Such things happened. A local noble may have been ultimately an only heir of several relatives, for example the product of a marriage between two local families whose wealth happened to combine in that person. Also, some daughter possibly as only surviving child of a lower noble family, would have occasionally been an attractive marriage prospect, comparable to a daughter of a highly noble family with a lot of siblings. A local sole heiress of a good estate would not have been worse than:
a highly-noble bride with the dowry of one estate whose brothers inherited the mist and sisters also needed dowries.
I have seen many examples in medieval Europe how a middle-tier noble would actualy make a marriage to high nobility in such conditions.

Another point is that a widower, elderly men of high nobility, when seeking a second or third (or so) wife, appear to have occasionally taken a wife not from highest nobility. I think this is a combination of circumstances: the man himself was no longer under parental supervision who would have chosen a marriage of convenience, rather the old goat's own desires surfaced more often; and, the older man already possibly had heirs and that caused other very high prospects not to find the marriage very attractive, whereas it still was a very good stepping-stone for a family of lower nobility.

Also an 'extra' daughter of a highly noble family could been 'sacrificed' to form an alliance with a locally prominent noble clan. And, in presence of highly noble sons to succeed, amy daughter was 'extra'.

So, there should be no unconditional denial of occasional marriages between highest nobility (even if their influence was felt over an entire kingdom) and locally important nobles.


about posibilities of a royal daughter to marry:

This presented case was of the dowager queen Urraka Alfonsis 'la Asturiana'.
* She firstly married the elderly king of Navarre as his second and last wife. This actually was a step upwards for her, because she was not a legitimate daughter of a king. She was illegitimate, born of a mistress who was from highly noble family. [the entire phenomenon of highly noble mistresses of kings, ladies who were countesses themselves, speaks for the 'high nobility' being pretty low-standard....]
* a widow had better freedom to choose her next husband, higher latitude to 'downgrade', and also usually somewhat smaller attractiveness. European medieval history has several examples where widowed daughters and sisters of kings married 'a lowly knight'.
* it is attested that the dowager queen Urraka Alfonsis secondly married a nobleman of a magnate family (de Castro), who had been exiled and were relatively poor, and dependent on the favor of the bride's half-brother the Leonese king. This marriage does NOT speak for 'high' standards when choosing a husband for that widowed queen.

So, hasty opinions about too much exclusivity in this, would also be unwarranted.

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