Hearts Through History Romance Writers

Romance Over the Centuries

by | December 3, 2011 | 2 comments

A few weeks ago I found a great post on Sapphire Phelan’s Passion Center. She had a great overview of the history of romance over the centuries. She provided insight into the etymology (origin) of words, history of romantic practices, and how love and marriage has changed over the centuries.

The need to procreate and to be close to another person hasn’t changed over the centuries. It’s part of who and what we are. What has changed is how we go about it. The romance of it all.

Sapphire’s post starts with the Greek explanation of the four types of love, philia, brotherly or familial love, eros intimate or romantic love, storge an affection or fondness and agape a selfless or spiritual love.

The definition locked down, she begins her march through time. This is what I found so intriguing. She acknowledges the brutality of the ancients raiding villages to capture wives, and moved on to the Medieval custom of arranged marriages for property, monetary and political alliances. She also provided the origin of honeymoon.

I hadn’t realized that today’s courting rituals was rooted in medieval chivalry. “The importance of love in a relationship emerged as a reaction to arranged marriages. Still, it was not considered a prerequisite in matrimonial decisions. Suitors wooed their intended with serenades and flowery poetry… Chastity and honor were highly regarded virtues. In 1228, women first gained the right to propose marriage in Scotland, a legal right that then slowly spread through Europe.”  This era saw the rise of romance in literature and on the stage, albeit only men performing.

Loves spoons were all the rage in 17th century Wales as a way for a suitor to state his case. In England, chivalrous gentlemen sent a pair of gloves to the object of their affection hoping they would wear them to church on Sunday as a sign of their acceptance. The Renaissance had its own customs keeping in mind that the main goal was to produce children.

During the Victorian Era courting was very formal and controlled. As Sapphire mentioned, “It became a sort of art form among the upper classes.” There’s a great web site by Michelle J. Hoppe that gives all the particulars for Courting the Victorian Lady.

 Today, romance still blooms. Many of the traditional methods of dating are no longer of much use to either sex these days. Though some of even the oldest ideas are still considered romantic in our times, many are not practiced simply because they do not seem to fit in our modern world. To me romance is soft and tender quiet words spoken, small things done without asking, It’s time alone as well as time with friends. It’s a touch, a kiss, a whisper, and sometimes even silence.

What is romance to you?


  1. Lily Dewaruile

    One of the first gifts my husband ever gave me was a pair of silver lovespoon earrings. As you can surmise, my dearest is Welsh! Excellent post, Ruth. The Greeks truly did/do have a word for it.

    • Ruth A. Casie

      Lily –

      How wonderful! I know you must cherish the earrings. I was so surprised to learn our courting rituals dated back to medieval times. Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing.

      … Ruth



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