AMONG the Teutonic tribes, who became Italian landowners, betrothal was a contract only less inviolable than marriage, and lasted a considerable period before wedlock took place. When a portion of the warrior-caste was compelled to take up trade and reside within city walls, it was allied by blood with feudal owners who still dwelt in the country ; feuds were maintained and were not very rigorously repressed by the communes on account of the incalculable value for defence of men trained to arms. Each family strove for place and power, and girls were betrothed to friends for protection or to foes for the ratification of peace. And when, by the end of the fourteenth century, the enmity between nobles and populace came to an end, a new class of wealthy merchants arose, who, with their adherents, married their children for wealth or the manipulation of political power : avarice and the exigencies of caste replaced the dictation of the blood-feud in betrothal. From the Lombards, then, was derived the importance of betrothal, and betrothal maintained its significance under changed conditions. The Roman girl had been subject to paternal despotism ; the destiny of the Italian girl rested, at first, not merely with her father but with her family, and not merely with her 50family but with the political party to which her family adhered ; later the little community into which she had been born had a word to say on its own behalf ; later still, the usurper who ruled it. At first the power of the family was supreme ; the parents on both sides took their places in a council of relatives, and, unless they were very important people indeed, the custom was maintained in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. 1 Betrothal usually took place between those inhabiting the same quarter ; at first, because allied families resided near each other, under the shelter of their protecting towers ; later, the bride was given to some neighbour following her father’s trade—someone, therefore, who was thoroughly known. Among the higher classes in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries the three points of greatest importance in betrothal were lineage, wealth and political party ; later on, wealth and position, especially political position, were most considered. 2 By the end of the fourteenth century the enmity between nobles of Teutonic descent and the people, though used politically, did not interfere with betrothals between the two classes. Political exigencies or greed brought about very early betrothal and marriage ; babes in the cradle were often affianced, and, often, they did not meet before the signing of the marriage contract. 3 A prince of Urbino saw his wife, for the first time, after they had been married by proxy. 4 In 1477, Anna Sforza, aged three, was affianced to Alfonso, the new-born 51son of Ercole d’ Este, the bridegroom being carried in the arms of the ducal chamberlain to the Milanese ambassador. Filippo Maria Visconti betrothed his illegitimate daughter, Bianca, to the condottiere, Francesco Sforza, when she was only 8, and Lodovico Sforza, among other honours and rewards, gave his illegitimate daughter to Galeazzo Sanseverino when she still lacked five years of the nubile age.