Today we’ll be discussing some of the most remarkable marriage proposals of all time. That does not, however, mean talking about elaborate betrothals involving flash mob dance routines, sports arena Jumbotrons or anything like that.
Each of these proposals is noteworthy not because of gimmicks or extravagance, but rather because it had (or could have had) an actual impact on history. Very much so, in some cases. Even though this may be hard to believe, in the past many marriages were about power and influence more than they were about love.
Now that things have changed and you can basically marry whoever you want, it seems a good time to reflect on proposals of the past. Just look at how much things have evolved from the ancient proposal process to the modern process of popping the question!
Here are the five most remarkable marriage proposals of all time:
5.) Ancient Arranged Marriage
In the ancient world, marriage was a business deal, not a bond of love. This held true in ancient Greece and Rome, where land and title came along with matrimony. It was true in ancient Jewish communities, where dowries were carefully negotiated before the marriage of a daughter. But no culture matched ancient China for the rigidity of the proposal and engagement process. First, a boy’s family decided on a potential match (he played no part in this process).
The parents of both prospective spouses would meet in the company of a matchmaker (a negotiator, essentially) and a fortune teller. If the fortune teller saw portents of a fine marriage—e.g. was paid well—they would bless the union, at which point the boy’s family would shower the girl’s family with gifts. Then the fortune teller would pick the wedding date. Then more gifts. On the wedding day, the girl’s parents would send a large dowry to the boy’s parents, the type and amount of gifts established by the matchmaker. This sealed the deal, and then the couple could finally meet for the first time. Ah, romance.