Table of contents:
- How young noblewomen lived: either a house, or a monastery and why secret marriages were concluded
- A noblewoman and a commoner - is this possible?
- Marrying an Illiterate and Cases of Double Marriage
- How was adultery treated in Russia and what punishments were "defiled wives" subjected to?
The life of Russian noblewomen was not simple and cloudless, but abounded with restrictions that representatives of other estates did not face. There were various prohibitions and conventions, society had a great influence, and moral principles demanded from women strict observance of all the rules. However, love often pushed young ladies to crazy deeds. For example, they ran away from home to connect with their loved one. Read in the material about secret marriages and what kind of punishment awaited desperate women who decided to disregard the rules for the sake of love.
How young noblewomen lived: either a house, or a monastery and why secret marriages were concluded
Girls and women of the upper classes lived in seclusion. Modesty and meekness were considered the main virtues. The girls were looked after by numerous nannies and mothers, and life itself resembled existence in a monastery. Of course, the young girls were bored. They wanted love, emotions. It happened that the girls secretly corresponded with their fans, and sometimes even agreed to dates. Some managed to hide what was happening, and then everything could end more or less easily. But if before the wedding it turned out that the girl entered into an intimate relationship with a man, then she could not count on a decent party. The options were not very pleasant: to stay forever in girls, or to accept the offer of the first groom that came across.
Unfortunately, when choosing a groom, few people were interested in the girl's opinion. Basically, brides dutifully married the right man. However, in those cases when the girl already had a lover, she could go against her parental will and commit a desperate act - run away from home and secretly marry her chosen one in freedom.
There is a well-known story that happened in the Derzhavin family: when the poet's sister-in-law dared to run away through the window in order to secretly marry an unwanted chosen one. After that, she returned home to live as before. There was a scandal, nevertheless, the couple lived together and were happy. But there were other cases, less successful. For example, in the 19th century, the noblewoman Yankova ran away with a young officer to get married. But the man deceived the poor thing - he was married, and when Yankova had a child, he simply “disappeared into the fog”.
Often, young noblewomen fell in love with their teachers of music, dance, literature, intoxicated by the talents of their idol. Most often, parents suppressed such romances, establishing strict surveillance for the girl. However, there were also tragic stories, for example, in the 18th century, the young widow of Gagarin was inflamed with a passion for the teacher of her stepdaughters and became engaged to him. The result was disastrous: relatives struck the woman off the family list, and the husband was rude and treated his wife very badly.
A noblewoman and a commoner - is this possible?
When a girl chose a nobleman, even if her parents were against it, then society could accept what happened. But if a commoner figured as a groom, and, moreover, he was often illiterate, then there were no options. In the pre-Catherine era, a woman of a noble family, who decided to link her life with a representative of the lower class, lost all privileges and status. Moreover, the children of such a couple could not be considered aristocrats. For example, Peter's first wife had a relative who very much asked the king for the blessing of her marriage with a servant. Approval was received only after 3 years of their life together and the birth of two children. However, the woman was expelled from the palace, and her further fate is unknown.
Marrying an Illiterate and Cases of Double Marriage
It was considered bad form when a noblewoman chose an illiterate or poorly educated man. In the opinion of society, an illiterate person could not count on success, a good social position. His family will always be in need and will not be able to be happy. At the beginning of the 18th century, the so-called “church minimum” was introduced for brides, and the girl who could not write her name was prohibited from getting married. This was the decree of Peter the Great.
There have been cases of dualism. If it became known, the later marriage was annulled, the wife went to her first husband, and sometimes was exiled to a monastery. The priest also got it, who broke the rules - he was punished by defrocking.
If dualism was caused by the long absence of her husband (in the 18th century Russia was constantly at war), and the noblewoman, after waiting ten years, decided to remarry, then she was given a temporary divorce. However, when the first husband appeared, the marriage was immediately dissolved, and the "hurry-up woman" was condemned. At the same time, the old husband could choose: to stay with his wife or to marry himself. This was permitted by law.
How was adultery treated in Russia and what punishments were "defiled wives" subjected to?
According to family law of the 17th and 18th centuries, the defiled wife was expelled from the house, and she was not entitled to support. At the same time, this practice did not exist with regard to husbands. The wife was obliged to forgive him and live with the traitor further. Until the end of the 17th century, harlots were subjected to corporal punishment (flogged), after which they were sent to a monastery. The husband also had the right to use physical force and beat the woman.
Over time, the situation began to change, and women paid less attention to the law, especially the rich and noble. The biggest punishment was divorce, and even in this case the ladies did not remain beggars. They were allowed to claim 1/7 of the estates from their ex-husband in court, as well as a fourth of the acquired capital and movable property.
History knows many women who followed their husbands into exile. At the same time, the society believed that it should be so. On the contrary, those lamas who did not do this and demanded a divorce were called dishonorable. And this is despite the fact that Catherine's decree said - eternal exile is a direct basis for divorce.
For various reasons, the wives of aristocrats could fall into disgrace. And then they were placed in special prison-chambers, where their fate was broken.