The jus primae noctis was a popular belief in medieval Europe. The belief was that the Lord of the Manor had the privilege of sharing the wedding bed with his peasants’ brides. Put in place by the lords as a sign of superiority over the dependent peasants in the 15th century. Today this seems weird and a foreign concept. Something no one would consider advocating today. Yet, then it may have been the norm. There are various sources that refute this practice.
Beliefs about marriage, divorce and sex are varied between different ages and cultures. I thought it would be interesting and beneficial do a little research into what these differences are and how they could affect our current thinking. I (and most of you), live in a Western like society, where generally divorce is frowned upon. It wasn’t until early Christian leaders became hostile toward sex, that it marriage became a institution for life. In fact there are many cultures where divorce is accepted as part of life. Most of these cultures are found in African cultures where economic autonomy exists. Some examples are:
- The Lozi people primarily from Zambia have polygamous but not polyandry marriages. Divorce is allowable and a common occurrence.
- The !Kung bushmen in Nambia the divorce rate is about 41% and often have multiple marriages
- Hadza from Tanzania partner with several partners over the course of their lives, without formal marriages you can argue that there is no divorce. They are accepting of the fact that one person will have several sexual partners
- Yoruba people from West Africa have a divorce rate of 46%
I have given these examples not to condone divorce but to offer a different perspective on what marriage and divorce means. Our beliefs can empower or disempower you have the choice to form you beliefs regards of your race, colour or creed. Jus primae noctis which now seems strange, was once an acceptable practice. Divorce may seem common practice in the future.
Anatomy of Love: A Natural History of Mating, Marriage, and Why We Stray Web article on the Lozi people The Hadze people