Did men wear wedding rings in medieval times?

Answered by Douglas Hiatt

In medieval times, the tradition of men wearing wedding rings was not as prevalent as it is today. While women have been wearing wedding rings for thousands of years, men’s involvement in this tradition was much less common.

During the medieval period, marriage was primarily seen as a legal and economic contract rather than a romantic union. The exchange of rings was not a common practice and was reserved more for the upper classes or nobility. Even then, it was mainly women who wore the rings.

One notable exception to this was the Gimmel ring, which gained popularity in the 16th and 17th centuries in Europe. Gimmel rings consisted of two interlocking bands that were often given as engagement rings. These rings were not exclusive to men, as both men and women could wear them. However, they were not specifically wedding rings and were not as widespread as the tradition we see today.

It is important to remember that the concept of marriage and the symbols associated with it have evolved over time. In medieval times, marriages were often arranged for political or economic reasons, and the exchange of rings was not a common part of the ceremony.

The idea of men wearing wedding rings gained more prominence in Western culture during the early 20th century. This shift was influenced by various factors, including the rise of romantic love as the foundation of marriage, increased gender equality, and the marketing efforts of jewelry companies.

In my personal experience, I have observed that the practice of men wearing wedding rings has become more common and widely accepted in modern times. It is now seen as a symbol of commitment and love, regardless of gender. However, it is worth noting that cultural traditions and customs can vary across different regions and societies.

To summarize, while men wearing wedding rings in medieval times was not a widespread practice, the concept of men’s wedding rings did exist to some extent with the Gimmel ring. It is only in more recent history that the tradition of men wearing wedding rings has become more prevalent.