• Joan of the Tower was married on 17 July 1328 to David II of Scotland at Berwick-upon-Tweed. She was seven years old, he was only four.
  • Isabella of Valois married Richard II at the age of six and was widowed three years later.

Were these not considered pedophilia?

  • 6
    In your example, they didn't actually have sex at that age. It was not paedophilia, obviously, since those marriages were arranged for them. However, it was theoretically not acceptable, since strictly speaking you had to reach the canonical age of seven for a betrothal, and early teens for the actual marriage. Being royals, they could however do away with this technicality with some papal dispensions.
    – Semaphore
    Commented Jun 26, 2015 at 3:15
  • 15
    The notion of pedophilia is rather modern (late 19th century), so the question is rather anachronistic. Traditionally sex outside of marriage itself was considered serious crime, so local habits of marriages was effectively controlling the issue. Traditional cultures often marry out girls early (so she is still virgin) and this is still common in many areas.
    – Greg
    Commented Jun 26, 2015 at 5:21
  • Semaphore :Isabella of Valois became widowded at nine before having sex how that?!also even it is exception for kings i think doing so is a crime their opinion in their marriage must be taken.i think Principles are indivisible not because the term pedophilia was not present then to do what principles of humanity refuses. Commented Jun 27, 2015 at 22:06
  • 4
    @opthamologist - just because they were married, it doesn't mean they had sex (no "wedding night"). It's not necessarily true of marriages even today! Commented Jun 28, 2015 at 10:32
  • @opthamologist Like Clockwork-Muse said, you can be a widow without having had sex. The consummation of a marriage (sex) is separate from the ceremony of marriage.
    – Semaphore
    Commented Jun 28, 2015 at 17:24

4 Answers 4



The term pedophilia was not coined until 1886; all of the examples you give were before the term existed.

Furthermore, and much more importantly, pedophilia has to do with sexual attraction, and none of these marriages had anything to do with sexual attraction. Although I have not done the required research, I'm confident in asserting that none of the parties involved (neither the spouses, nor their relatives, nor the governments that they represented) expected that the marriages would be consummated at these early ages.

As others have stated, these were political treaties that have very little to do with "marriage" as we understand it. I would expect different behavior at a family dinner the night after a holiday than you would at a state dinner where the President of the United States entertains a foreign dictator during a tense diplomatic standoff. The are both dinners, but they really can't be compared. Similarly the marriage between two royal houses cannot be compared to two peasants jumping the broom.

  • 1
    "jumping the broom"? That's an euphemism I haven't heard before. Commented Nov 28, 2015 at 5:13
  • 3
    It is also worth remembering that the notion of childhood itself is a relatively modern one. I think literature that depicts children as children only really emerges in the 19th century - but don't hold me to that.
    – WS2
    Commented Nov 28, 2015 at 9:29
  • 4
    @PieterGeerkens it isn't a euphemism. There is a very old tradition of couples jumping over a broom together (literally). The origins are somewhat questionable, but was done when people wanted some kind of tradition to signify their union but could not be formally married. Commented Dec 1, 2015 at 21:20

Royal marriages in medieval times had nothing to do with personal values.

They were about political alliances and property and progeny. And indeed this made strange bedfellows. Minor details like being under-age were fixed because advancing family influence was far more important. The marriage tie and consummation were different events anyway. A bit of background can be found here.

Some famous extremes:

  1. Henry VIII of England in the name of progeny.
  2. The Habsburg Jaw from intermarriage to keep property in the family.
  • Is pedophilia a personal value?
    – CGCampbell
    Commented Jun 28, 2015 at 20:10
  • How to react to this comment? Partner preference would be placed somewhere in the area of social and aesthetic values.
    – Bookeater
    Commented Jun 28, 2015 at 20:32
  • OK, so I was being sarcastic and snarky... my point was the question asks "was...not...pedophilia" ... you don't answer the question. Unless, of course, you mean that pedophilia is equal to personal values. (Or I'm not counting the multiple negatives in the question properly.
    – CGCampbell
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 0:09
  • @CGCampbell The answer is "had nothing to do with...entirely different factors". Same as the other answers.
    – Bookeater
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 4:20

Marriages of royal and noble children were not consummated at the time of marriage. Instead, a date was designated for the consummation when both children were in their adolescence, typically with the younger being about 14. That met the "standards" of the time, although not modern standards.

Many of these child brides/grooms died before adolescence and consummation. That was taken in stride because the real purpose of the marriage had been served; an alliance between two powerful families, who used their children as pawns to further their own ends.


In 1298 Emperor Andronicus II, defeated by Serbian King Stefan Milutin, promished him an imperial bride. He intended his sister, Eudokia, empress dowger of Trebizond, but she refused and Andronicus then selected his daughter Simonis or Simonida, who was born about 1294. The 50 year old Milutin divorced his third wife, Anna Terter, sister of the Bulgarian Tsar, and they were married in 1299 despite protests from the Byzantine clergy. after Milutin died in 1321 Simonida returned to Constantinople and entered a monastery, dying sometime after 1345.

It has been claimed that Militun did not wait until Simonida was old enough, but had sex with her soon after the marriage, and damaged her reproductive organs making her unable to have children. If that story is correct, it is sort of surprising that she was never accused of poisoning or assassinating Milutin.

edit 05/19/16

One account says the Patriarch of Constantinople was horrified by the idea of marrying off Simonida so young, but as unable to find any religious authority for absolute minimum age for marriage and absolute prohibition of marriage below any specific age.

  • 2
    Interesting anecdote, but not an answer to the question.
    – user15620
    Commented May 15, 2016 at 21:58

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