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What was the bride's dowry in Russia?
What was the bride's dowry in Russia?

From the very birth for a girl in a Russian family, they began to collect a dowry. And in the state treasury there was even a separate item of expenditure for the dowry to girls from the royal family.

Today, in developed societies, it is believed that marriage should be for love, and earlier it was an economically beneficial union for both parties (although feelings have not been canceled either). And the more noble and wealthy the families were, the more thoroughly they approached the search for a partner for their child.


One of the important criteria was the presence of certain property of the bride - in this way her family demonstrated their wealth in order to attract a noble husband. Since after the wedding, the woman was on the provision of her husband, the dowry was a kind of wife's contribution to the family economy and her “insurance” just in case.

At the same time, the husband could dispose of his wife's dowry only with her consent; he had no rights to her premarital property. And this rule was valid for any class, even the nobles, even the peasants.

What was included in the dowry?


A variety of things were considered a dowry. For poorer families, these were household items: for example, bed linen, tablecloths, lace, hand-made fabrics, dishes. The bride had to have everything that she could later have in the household, at least for the first time. The things were kept in a large wooden chest, which the girl brought to her husband's house after the wedding.

Wealthy parents added to this houses, land, jewelry, furs, bank accounts. In peasant families, women could have their own cows or sheep, and if she sold, for example, things made from the wool of her sheep, the money was also hers (and children, of course).


They began to collect the dowry from childhood: first, the girl's mother was engaged in this, and then the future bride herself. The girls made their own clothes and kitchen textiles, competing in the skill of needlework to make the dowry look more advantageous than others.

It was not accepted to hide the dowry - on the contrary, the family told potential suitors about their daughter's property. After the matchmaking, an inventory of the dowry was carried out, and on the wedding day, the bride's relatives had a tradition to ask for a ransom for this property.

State Brides


The dowry of girls from noble families related to the imperial one was regulated by the legislation of the Russian Empire. According to the law of 1797, if the marriage is carried out at the will of the emperor, then the girl receives a dowry from the state treasury, depending on the degree of kinship, from 100 thousand rubles (great-great-granddaughter) to a million (daughter).

In 1886, the amount of the dowry to the emperor's distant relatives was reduced to 30 thousand rubles, and after the wedding, the girl received only half. The rest of the amount was kept in the bank and she was paid an annual interest. For the organization of the dowry of the daughters and granddaughters of the emperor, they could even arrange tenders among suppliers: porcelain, glass, furniture factories considered such orders to be very beneficial for their reputation.

If the Grand Duchess married a foreigner, then a marriage contract was drawn up. In addition, the dowry of such a bride also included traveling church utensils, if the husband was of another faith. Most often, Russian brides abroad spent their money on the maintenance of the house, travel and their own needs.

Was it possible to get married without a dowry?


Of course, they got married without a dowry - however, one could not count on a profitable party. The playwright Alexander Ostrovsky has a play "Dowry" about a girl who is forced to get along with a person who is unpleasant to her, because the one who likes her has chosen a better-off bride. As a result, her fiance kills her out of jealousy.

Do I need a dowry today?


Marriage traditions changed dramatically in the early 20th century, when women were given equal rights with men.The dowry has ceased to be of key importance, although women still continued to collect bed linen and towels before the wedding, even during the Soviet years. In the villages today, chests with dowry of grandmothers and great-grandmothers are kept - a real vintage!


But in the Caucasian republics, brides' dowry is still collected - this is an integral part of any wedding. This is done, however, in a very modern way: in Chechnya and Dagestan there are special “dowry shops” where you can buy everything you need and immediately pack it into a pretty chest.

It is believed that things should be enough for the first year. The list includes bed linen, clothes, shoes, jewelry, fur coat, bags, cosmetics, as well as a gift for the girl who opens the bride's chest.

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