These Lavish Dowries In History are Obscene

These Lavish Dowries In History are Obscene

Trista - January 24, 2020

Slated as one of the worst crimes ever against women, dowries hold a weirdly popular place in history. Many notable people, especially royalty, spent a lot of money on weddings. They always want and get the best. Sometimes these weddings involved lavish dowries, ones that people couldn’t imagine then and still can’t imagine today. But who holds the most lavish dowry in history?

Many dowries include land that came with the bride. This land went into the name of the husband, giving him a higher social standing. Other dowries included gold, jewels, money, and other rare objects that are seen as more of a treasure today than before.

These Lavish Dowries In History are Obscene
A 1905 dowry agreement from Greece. Ancient Origins.

33. Margaret Giffard And The Magical Pair

This dowry is more of a legend that dates back to the 13th century. While many people debate the legend, many others believe it. Margaret Giffard’s father, wizard, Sir Hugo, took a pear and placed a spell on it. He told his daughter’s husband and family that as long as she kept the pear safe, the whole family would remain safe forever.

One night, one of Giffard’s descendants, Lady Elizabeth Mackenzie, dreamed she took a bite out of the pear. Fortunately, the pear remained untouched. However, her husband fell into debt and sold the pair to his brother, who drowned with his two sons.

These Lavish Dowries In History are Obscene
Digitization of a pre-1380 art image of the siblings Violante Visconti and Gian Galeazzo Visconti.

32. Gold and Land Became A Part Of Violante Visconti’s Dowry

Violante Visconti, and Italian princess and the daughter of Galeazzo II Visconti. Her father, known as Lord of Milan became a member of the Visconti dynasty in the 1300s. By the age of 13 years old, her father promised an extensive dowry to her suitor. Violante’s first husband became Lionel of Antwerp, 1st Duke of Clarence.

Lionel, the third son of King Edward III of England, lacked inheritance because of his many surviving brothers. Marrying Violante allowed Lionel to receive more land and money than his brothers. Unfortunately, Lionel died five months into their marriage due to suspected food poisoning.

These Lavish Dowries In History are Obscene
Tomb of Lionel, Duke of Clarence. Westminster Abbey.

31. Violante Visconti’s Dowry Included A Lavish Wedding

In the 1300s, when Violante Visconti and Lionel, Duke of Clarence, married, the bride’s father needed to pay for the wedding. Galeazzo II Visconti decided that his daughter’s wedding is a part of her dowry, making Violante’s dowry all the more lavish in history.

When Lionel traveled to Italy for his wedding, he brought over 1200 horses and 450 knights. It took 52 ships for everyone to visit. Over 10,000 people came to the wedding, and Galeazzo made sure everyone ate the 18-course banquet. Some of the gifts Lionel received included shields, lances and steel hats, and silver gilded belts.

These Lavish Dowries In History are Obscene
1652 Shilling Pine Tree. PCGS.

30. John Hull’s Daughter, Hannah, Needed Her Weight

John Hull is known as the originator of the first Massachusetts mint. Because he created the mint, the colony put him in charge of the money, and he developed the first silver pine tree shilling. Coins meant everything to Hull, so when his daughter married, any amount of money he gave became a fantastic dowry.

Upon negotiating a dowry, the father and future husband, Samuel Sewall, decided John would give a dowry that matched Hannah’s weight. However, he couldn’t weigh her until the morning of her wedding date. When the day came, John needed to give a dowry that equaled 100 pounds of silver.

These Lavish Dowries In History are Obscene
Oil painting of Anne of Denmark. Wikimedia.

29. King James I of England Received Land When He Married Anne

Like many people of her social status, Anne of Denmark came with a dowry of land. The future King James I of England, known as King James VI of Scotland at the time of his marriage, didn’t always like his wife, but he enjoyed the additional land.

The land, northern Orkney isles, wasn’t the only part of Anne’s Dowry. Anne’s family also sent her hundreds of thousands of pounds. Of course, Anne continued to have her attitude. While this wasn’t part of the dowry, it stayed with Anne, and she often sought revenge after their nasty arguments.

These Lavish Dowries In History are Obscene
Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia. Wikimedia.

28. Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia Brought An Exquisite Dowry

Russian Emperor Alexander II didn’t blink an eye when it came to giving his daughter to Queen Victoria’s son Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh. In fact, the father became delighted about the arrangement. However, he also knew that he couldn’t skimp out on her daughter’s dowry.

Alexander II felt that he had to do everything in his power to give whatever he could because the queen wasn’t too pleased with the marriage arrangement. Even though she approved of the marriage, she wrote that it made her heart feel heavy as she didn’t care about Maria Alexandrovna.

These Lavish Dowries In History are Obscene
The marriage of Prince Alfred and Maria Alexandrovna. Royal Collections Trust.

27. Maria Alexandrovna Brought Jewels And A Sum Of Money

The problem Alexander II faced with his daughter’s marriage to Queen Victoria’s son is that the royal family had everything they needed. Therefore, Alexander II felt the best step to take was to send his daughter to the new chapter of her life with rare jewels and a lump sum.

Not only did the newlyweds receive 100,000 pounds, a sum that surprised the queen, but they also received 32,000 pounds every year after that. In a series of several gifts, Alexander II gave his daughter many jewels. Furthermore, Alexander named his new son-in-law honorary chief of a Russia Guards regiment.

These Lavish Dowries In History are Obscene
Eleanor of Aquitaine, a ruler during medieval France. Thoughtco.

26. Eleanor Of Aquitaine Brought Half Of France

Eleanor of Aquitaine became a mighty ruler during the medieval ages. She is known as the Queen of France and the Queen of England. Her father, Duke William X, named her in his will as his heiress. Not too long after, he died, and Eleanor received a large amount of land.

When Eleanor married the son of King Louis VI, King Louis VII, he received half of France as this land came with her. As a forced marriage, Eleanor quickly became unhappy, and soon the couple divorced.

These Lavish Dowries In History are Obscene
Eleanor of Aquitaine. British Heritage.

25. Eleanor’s Dowries Followed Her Through Two Other Marriages

After Eleanor of Aquitaine divorced her first husband, King Louis VII, she met his arch-rival, Henry Plantagenet, the Duke of Normandy. Because France came with Eleanor, King Louis VII had to give the land back to her. This meant that Henry inherited half of France when he married Eleanor.

However, Eleanor’s second marriage didn’t last long, either. When she left Henry, he had to give France back to Eleanor. The next king to receive half of France because he married Eleanor became King Henry VI of England.

These Lavish Dowries In History are Obscene
Oil painting of Henrietta Maria. Wikimedia.

24. Henrietta Maria of France Brought A Nice Dowry When She Wed Charles I of England

While Henrietta’s family sent her thousands of livres as a dowry, her husband, Charles I of England, did not care too much for the money. In fact, the couple could barely acknowledge each other without arguing.

Because Henrietta couldn’t stand her husband, she started spending time with her good friend, Lucy Hay. However, Henrietta started to give birth to children and soon began to feel differently toward her husband. In fact, by the time the future Charles II came into this world, the couple became inseparable. The family continued to give dowries when their daughter grew up and married herself.

These Lavish Dowries In History are Obscene
Henrietta of England. Wikimedia.

23. Henrietta Maria and Charles II Gave A Wealthy Dowry As She Brought Into Her Marriage

Charles I and his wife, Henrietta Maria, fell in love after a rocky start and had children. Their youngest daughter, named Henrietta after her mother, married Philippe I, Duke of Orleans, in 1661. When the couple announced their marriage, Henrietta’s brother and mother started arranging the dowry because her father, Charles I, died years before.

Charles II decided to give his sister 40,000 livres every year. On top of this, he gave her 840,000 livres and another 20,000 to help pay for other expenses. As a final act, Charles II gave his sister Château de Montargis.

These Lavish Dowries In History are Obscene
Princess Grace’s wedding to Monaco’s Prince Rainier III on April 18, 1956. Brides.

22. Grace Kelly’s Dad Had To Pay $2 Million Plus A Fertility Test

Before Meghan Markel, there was Grace Kelly. Known as one of the best actresses in America was Grace Kelly. Many people thought it was strange Kelly’s dad needed to pay a dowry when his daughter married into a royal family, but that’s the agreement when marrying into the family.

Not only did her dad pay for the wedding, but he also sent his daughter off with about $2 million. But, before this, he needed to pay for his daughter to take a fertility test to ensure that Grace could give the Monaco prince children.

These Lavish Dowries In History are Obscene
Mary Tudor, Queen of France. Wikimedia.

21. Mary Tudor’s Dowry Is Considered More Of A Fine Than A Gift

A dowry is meant to be seen as a gift for the marrying couple. Due to past laws, the bride’s father often handed the groom the dowry as many rules stated that women were the property of their husbands. Of course, this is a case-by-case basis as some dowries followed a future Queen.

When Henry VIII’s sister, Mary Tudor, married her second husband, her brother became angry. He never told Mary she could marry Charles Brandon and sent her a bill asking telling her to repay her dowry from her first marriage plus interest.

These Lavish Dowries In History are Obscene
Mary Tudor with her love, Charles Brandon. National Portrait Gallery, London/Britain Magazine.

20. Mary Tudor Married For Love, The Second Time

The first time Mary married France’s King Louis XII, whom she had to marry. After King Louis’ demise, Mary started seeing a new man, someone she fell in love with and decided to marry named Charles Brandon. The biggest problem with this relationship is that Mary never asked her brother, King Henry VIII, for permission to marry.

Once Henry learned about his sister’s new marriage, he demanded the couple pay a total of £24,000 (£11,610,000 today). To remain married, the couple agreed by paying an installment of £1,000 every year.

These Lavish Dowries In History are Obscene
Statue of Ramesses II. Vintage News.

19. A Foreign Princess Brought Ramesses II Animals And Slaves As A Peace Treaty Dowry

Dowries have had a place in history for centuries. In fact, the ancient Egyptians made sure dowries became a part of marriages. The most significant difference between the 19th century and ancient Egypt dowries is the number of wives someone had at one time.

Ramesses II was a typical Egyptian Pharaoh and had several wives. While no one knows her name, we do know that one of Ramesses II’s wives brought goats, horses, and slaves as her dowry. We also know that part of her dowry was a peace treaty between Egypt and her country.

These Lavish Dowries In History are Obscene
Cecil Chao with his daughter, Gigi.

18. Chinese Billionaire Offered A Handsome Dowry And Then Took It Away

Not all dowries in history have stayed with the married couple. Recently, Chinese billionaire Cecil Chao offered many that would marry his daughter up to $40 million. The catch was his daughter, a lesbian, had to agree to marry the potential suitor and state she was no longer a lesbian.

While Cecil and his daughter received many offers, she refused them all and pleaded with her father to accept her partner, whom she loves very much. Even though it embarrassed him, Cecil agreed and told people the offer was off the table and kept the money.

These Lavish Dowries In History are Obscene
Chinese Magnate Wu Duanbiao’s daughter. Daily Mail.

17. Chinese Magnate Wu Duanbiao Gave Away His Daughter And $150 Million

Wu Duanbiao is one of the richest men in China, and he had no problem showing off his wealth when it comes to the marriage of his daughter, Xu. Along with a wedding that totaled eight days, he also gave his daughter and her new husband a large number of gifts throughout this time.

While Wu Duanbiao barely made any income the year before his daughter’s wedding, he couldn’t help but reach into his savings to make sure she is taken care of. This meant that he gave his daughter a gift of $150 million to receive as her dowry.

These Lavish Dowries In History are Obscene
Some of the dowry items. South China Morning Post.

16. Wu Duanbiao Didn’t Stop With An 8-Day Wedding And $150 Million

The friends of the groom told him it’s like he robbed a bank, but came out with more than what a bank would have for him. Not only did Wu Duanbiao make sure that his daughter had a wedding that lasted over a week and sent her off with $150 million, but he also gave her two vehicles.

Wu Duanbiao’s daughter received the gifts of a Porsche and a Mercedes. Along with the cars, the couple received four boxes of gold. Still, Wu didn’t stop there. He also decided to give $1.5 million to two different charities in celebration.

These Lavish Dowries In History are Obscene
Catherine of Aragon. Wikimedia.

15. Catherine Of Aragon Brought A Large Dowry To Her First Marriage

Catherine of Aragon is best known as the Queen of England and King Henry VIII’s first wife. However, before she married King Henry, she married his brother, Arthur Tudor, Prince of Wales. The couple married in a lavish wedding in 1501.

One of the most luxurious weddings wasn’t the only part of Catherine’s dowry. Catherine came from a wealthy family who wanted to make sure she always lived a lavish lifestyle. Along with several pieces of jewelry, Catherine brought with her 200,000 escudos. At the time, this was more than the English government made in one year.

These Lavish Dowries In History are Obscene
Portrait of King Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon. History.

14. Catherine’s Dowry Lasted Through Her Second Marriage As Well

Unfortunately, Catherine’s first marriage to the Prince of Wales didn’t last long. The prince died the following year. The problem with Catherine’s dowry is that the king only saw half of it by the time his brother died. Because the prince passed, England might never see the rest of Catherine’s dowry.

This is when King Henry VIII stepped in and did something that kings weren’t supposed to do during this time. He decided to make Catherine his first wife, ensuring that he continued to see her lavish dowry. While we can’t be sure how much money this is today, it’s enough to live very well.

These Lavish Dowries In History are Obscene
Portuguese Princess Catherine of Braganza. History of Royal Women.

13. Catherine Of Braganza Came With International Trading Rights

It always seems to surprise people what traditional dowries included. For Catherine of Braganza, one of the surprising requirements of her dowry included trading rights. When the Portuguese Princess Catherine married King Charles II of England and Scotland, she allowed England to trade with Portuguese colonies all over the world.

This trading allowed England to receive items that they rarely had before and helped raise the economy of the country. Some of the things Catherine introduced to England included oranges and forks.

These Lavish Dowries In History are Obscene
Queen Catherine and her husband, King Charles II. WordPress.

12. The Forgotten Queen, Catherine of Braganza Gave More Than Trading Rights

Incredibly, Catherine of Braganza is known as the “forgotten queen” because she gave so much when she married King Charles II of England and Scotland. Not only did she provide trading rights and introduce various new items to the country, but she also brought with her over $500,000 worth of trading goods.

Another part of Catherine’s dowry included some major ports, such as Tangier, Mumbai, and Morocco. Unfortunately, Catherine did not have any children, but this doesn’t mean that England didn’t prosper with her help.

These Lavish Dowries In History are Obscene
Statue of Cicero. Wikimedia.

11. Cicero Married His First Wife For Her Lavish Dowry

Marcus Tullius Cicero is known for many things, such as being an ancient Roman politician and lawyer. He is also known for having more than one wife during his lifetime, and while this is not unusual, the reason why he married his first wife is well, not as odd as well.

Cicero became the first person in his family to enter the Senate, and this meant he had a lot of social obstacles to overcome. This became challenging, especially when his funds ran low. Therefore, he found a woman to marry him that brought with her a farm, mountain estate, and landlords of Roman apartment blocks.

These Lavish Dowries In History are Obscene
Statue of Cicero. Foundation for Economic Education.

10. Also, Cicero Married His Second Wife For Her Lavish Dowry

Cicero leaped into politics when he married his first rich wife, Terentia. However, she refused to simply hand over everything he wanted and continued to manage his finances. When this didn’t become enough for his status, Cicero divorced Terentia and married a much younger woman named Publilia.

Publilia couldn’t manage Cicero’s finances because he was her guardian. Their marriage would end in a divorce as well. Cicero got what he needed from Publilia and then sent her on her way. From that point on, Cicero lived a pretty good lifestyle.

These Lavish Dowries In History are Obscene
Cleanliness is next to Godliness for an early 20th-century father. European soaps.

9. The Father Promised The Gift Of Cleanliness

Most dowries came in the form of money, gold, or land, but there are also many unique dowries. One dowry comes from a well-to-do hairdresser from the early 20th century. Happy with his daughter’s choice for a husband, he wanted to take care of the couple for as long as possible, but not just financially.

While he sent his daughter with a lump sum of money, he also wanted to make sure the couple remained clean for the rest of their lives. Therefore, he weighed his daughter and gave her 140 pounds of soap.

These Lavish Dowries In History are Obscene
Princess Marie-Chantal Miller. Wikimedia.

8. Princess Marie-Chantal Miller’s Dad Gave $2 Million For Her Wedding

Robert Miller, Marie-Chantal’s father, is a luxurious good billionaire. Therefore, Marie came into this world rich, but this still didn’t stop her from becoming richer when she married Prince Pavlos, the Crown Prince of Greece.

While Marie wasn’t a royal, the royal family didn’t mind because she is a member of the world’s highest society. Because of this, Marie-Chantel received a $2 million dowry on her wedding day. On top of this, her family also hosted a pre-wedding reception that fed over 1,300 guests. But that’s not all. The bride’s wedding dress cost more than $200,000.

These Lavish Dowries In History are Obscene
Alexandra Von Furstenberg. Haute Living.

7. Marie-Chantel Wasn’t The Only Member Of Her Family To Receive Such A High Dowry.

Princess Marie-Chantel is one of three women to have married from her family. For all three of his daughters, Robert Miller only gave the best. Not only did Marie receive a $200 million dowry from her father, but her two sisters, Alexandra and Pia, did as well.

Alexandra married a German Prince and received the same treatment as her sister, Marie-Chantel. Pai, who married a Getty heir, also had an expensive and large wedding along with receiving a $2 million dowry.

These Lavish Dowries In History are Obscene
Joan Beaufort. Pinterest.

6. Joan Beaufort Fell In Love With A Captive Whose Family Refused To Pay Ransom

Joan Beaufort, Countess of Westmorland, the daughter of the first Earl of Somerset, John Beaufort, and Margaret Holland. England officials kidnapped her future husband, James I of Scotland as a young child. He lived with the English for 18 years because his uncle refused to pay James’ ransom.

While in bondage, Joan and James met and instantly fell in love. In the hopes of winning Joan’s heart, James wrote her a love poem. Whether the poem did the trick or Joan loved James before, she fell madly in love with him. The only problem – he still lived in bondage.

These Lavish Dowries In History are Obscene
James I of Scotland. Wikimedia.

5. James I Received Freedom And Used Joan’s Dowry As A Ransom Payment

Once the English royal family realized that Joan marrying James would give them good alliance with Scotland, a deal to release James came into play. Around the same time, James’ uncle died, and his cousin, who wanted James home, became king.

The deal for James’ ransom stated that he would pay his debt in installments. For each payment, he would send a Scottish hostage from a noble family in his place. England agreed and they also forgave one installment due to his marriage to Joan. They considered this installment as Joan’s dowry payment.

These Lavish Dowries In History are Obscene
King David and his wife, Mical. Learn Religions.

4. David Brought 200 Foreskins To His Bride-To-Be’s Father

While most people know David as the man who became King of Israel and killed Goliath, he is also known for one of the strangest dowries in history. Historically, the bride’s family sent the dowry with their daughter on her wedding day, but David needed to prove his strength to his future father-in-law, King Saul and needed to bring the dowry himself.

Sent to die in battle, David’s father-in-law told him to bring back 100 foreskins if he wanted to marry his daughter. The show-off David always proved to be, he brought back 200 foreskins and the couple married.

These Lavish Dowries In History are Obscene
Princess Margaret of Austria. Wikimedia.

3. Princess Margaret Of Austria Nearly Lost Parts Of France

Princess Margaret lived during a time when parents arranged marriages when their children were young. Princess Margaret’s parents arranged her wedding at the age of three to King Charles VIII of France. Part of Margaret’s dowry decided during the arrangement, included several territories, such as Artois, Burgundy, Auxerre.

However, when Princess Margaret became marrying age, things started to change. While Margaret lived with her future husband as a child, she would not marry the man. Because the plans for marriage ended, Charles needed to give back the lands.

These Lavish Dowries In History are Obscene
Consort Jin. Wikimedia.

2. Qing Dynasty Consort Jin Received An Interesting Object As Part Of Her Dowry

Not everyone receives money, a home, or land when they get married. Some people receive objects that many people might find interesting or useless today. One of the most significant examples of a dowry that wasn’t spendy for its time is the Jadeite Cabbage that Consort Jin brought as her dowry.

During her time, the Jadeite Cabbage wasn’t expensive, but the meaning behind the Jadeite Cabbage meant more. The insects that are hidden among the bok-choy’s leaves represent fertility. The bok-choy leaves is seen as a symbol of purity. For Consort Jin’s time, the meaning is far greater than monetary value.

These Lavish Dowries In History are Obscene
Jadeite cabbage Consort Jin received for her dowry settlement. Wikimedia.

1. The Jadeite Cabbage Means More Now Than Ever Before

Even though the Jadeite Cabbage Consort Jin received had unknown value during her time, the object is seen as a national treasure today. In fact, the value and esteem have only increased over the years. The item is carved from a single piece of green and milky white jade. Many people compare it to a type of food.

It is possible to see the Jadeite Cabbage today as it sits in the National Palace Museum in Taiwan. People from all over the world take a look at the object and see it as a rare and national treasure that is irreplaceable.


Where did we find this information? Here are our sources:

“Royal weddings in history: The forgotten prince and his Milanese bride.” Benjamin Trowbridge, National Archives Blog, UK. March 2018

“The Most Lavish Dowries In History.” Carly Silver, Ranker.

“10 Most Outrageous Dowries Or Bride Prices.” Michael Van Duisen, Listverse. August 2018.

“Putting a Price on Marriage: The Long-standing Custom of Dowries.” Theodoros Karasavvas, Ancient Origins. October 2019.

“The £100MILLION bride: Chinese daughter of kitchen tile tycoon is married off with four boxes of gold, a Porsche AND a Mercedes (and locals say groom may as well have ‘robbed a bank’).” Emma Reynolds, Daily Mail. January 2013.