This is a list of child brides, females of historical significance who married under 18 years of age, which is the general marriageable age and age of majority in most countries in the 21st century.
From 380 A.D. to 1983 A.D., the age of majority was 21 years old in the Roman Catholic Church, which was adopted into canon law from Roman law. From 380 A.D. to 1971 A.D. the minimum marriageable age was 12 years for females and 14 years for males in the Roman Catholic Church, which was adopted into canon law from Roman law.
During the Holy Roman Empire (9th–19th centuries), age of majority was 21 years old and minimum marriageable age was 12 years for females and 14 years for males. There were some fathers who arranged marriages for a son or a daughter before he or she reached the age of maturity. Consummation would not take place until the age of maturity. Roman Catholic canon law defines a marriage as consummated when the "spouses have performed between themselves in a human fashion a conjugal act which is suitable in itself for the procreation of offspring, to which marriage is ordered by its nature and by which the spouses become one flesh."
In England, the Marriage Act 1753 required a marriage to be covered by a license (requiring parental consent for those under 21) or the publication of banns (which parents of those under 21 could forbid). The Church of England dictated that both the bride and groom must be at least 21 years of age to marry without the consent of their families; in the certificates, the most common age for the brides is 22 years. For the grooms 24 years was the most common age, with average ages of 24 years for the brides and 27 for the grooms. While European noblewomen often married early, they were a small minority of the population, and the marriage certificates from Canterbury show that, in England, even among nobility it was very rare to marry women off at very early ages.
In England, the minimum marriageable age was raised to 16 in 1929. Before then, the minimum marriageable age was 12 for females and 14 for males. In 1971, the age of majority was lowered to 18 years old.
The age of majority is 18 years old since 1983 C.E. and the minimum marriageable age is 14 years old for females and 16 years old for males since in 1917 C.E in the Roman Catholic Church.
- Constance of France (aged between about 15 and 17) was married to Hugh I, Count of Troyes (aged between about 19 and 21), between 1093 and 1095.
- Agnes of Courtenay was no more than 15-years-old when she was married to Reynald of Marash, sometime before 29 June 1149.
- Berengaria of Castile married Conrad II, Duke of Swabia (aged 13/14), in 1187, when she was about 8-years-old. The marriage was never consummated due to her young age. After Conrad's death in 1196, Berengaria married her first cousin once removed Alfonso IX of León (aged 25/26) in 1197, when she was about 17- or 18-years-old. The marriage was eventually annulled by the Pope in 1204 on the grounds of consanguinity.
- Joan of Kent (aged 12) secretly married Thomas Holland, 1st Earl of Kent (aged 26), in 1340. Holland went to war overseas, and her family arranged for the 13-year-old Joan to marry William Montagu (aged 12) in either late 1340 or early 1341. When Holland returned, the marriage was revealed, and Holland petitioned the Pope to have Holland's wife returned to him. Following the ruling in Holland's favor in 1349, Pope Clement VI annulled the marriage to Montagu and ordered Joan and Holland to be married in the Church.
- Anna von Schweidnitz (aged 14) was married to Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor (aged 37), in 1353. She had originally been betrothed at age 11 to Charles's newborn son and heir, Wencelaus, but after the death of both Wenceslaus and his mother, Charles asked to marry Anna himself.
- Anne Mauny (aged 13) was married to John Hastings, 2nd Earl of Pembroke (aged 20), in 1368, following the death of his first wife, Margaret, in 1361.
- Joan of Navarre (aged about 17/18) was married to John IV, Duke of Brittany (aged 46/47), in 1386.
- Caterina Sforza was betrothed at age 10 to Girolamo Riario (aged 29/30) in 1473. Some sources state that they married in that year, but that the marriage was not consummated until 1477, when Caterina turned 14, the legal age at the time.
- Lady Mary Brandon was at most 17-years-old when she was married to Thomas Stanley, 2nd Baron Monteagle, sometime before 1527.
- Christina of Denmark (aged 11) was married by proxy to Francis II, Duke of Milan (aged 38), in September 1533. They were married in person in May 1534, when she was 12 and he was 39. After her first husband's death in 1535, she was considered as a possible fourth wife for Henry VIII, who at the time was 46, while she was only 16. However, the match was opposed by both Christina and her aunt Mary of Hungary, and so it never materialized. Christina eventually married Francis, Duke of Bar (aged 23), in July 1541, when she was 19.
- Margaret of Parma (aged 13/14), illegitimate daughter of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, was married in 1536 to Alessandro de' Medici, Duke of Florence (aged 25/26; nephew of Pope Clement VII), to whom she had been engaged since she was 5-years-old. After Alessandro's assassination a year later, Margaret (now 15), married Ottavio Farnese, Duke of Parma (aged 14), grandson of Pope Paul III, in November 1538.
- Lucrezia de' Medici (aged 12) was married to Alfonso II d'Este, Duke of Modena (aged 24), in 1558. As Alfonso was fighting in France at the time, she did not move to his home in Ferrara until two years later. She died at the age of 16, and is believed to have been poisoned by her husband.
- Bianca Cappello (aged 15) fell in love with Pietro Bonaventuri and, in November 1563, eloped with him to Florence, where they were married.
- Margherita Farnese (aged 13) was married to Vincenzo Gonzaga (aged 18), the future Duke of Mantua, in March 1581. The marriage was annulled in May 1583 on grounds of non-consummation, Vincenzo claiming Margherita had been unable to do so due to a deformity and Margherita accusing Vincenzo of impotence.
- Jane Needham (aged about 14/15) was married to Charles Myddelton (aged 24/25) in 1660.
- Henrietta Howard (aged about 17) was married to Henry Horatio O'Brien, Lord Ibrackan, in June 1686.
- Maria Teresa Cybo-Malaspina, Duchess of Massa (aged 9), was married by proxy to Prince Eugenio of Savoy, Count of Soissons (aged 20), in November 1734. However, since he died thirteen days later, they never met and the marriage was annulled on the grounds that it was never consummated. Some years later, in 1741, Maria Teresa, now 15/16-years-old, was married to Ercole Rinaldo d'Este (aged 13/14).
- Princess Sophie of Anhalt-Zerbst (later known as Catherine the Great) was 16-years-old when she married her 17-year-old second cousin Peter of Holstein-Gottorp (later Peter III of Russia) in 1745.
- Elizabeth Medora Leigh was, as a young teenager, seduced by her brother-in-law, Henry Trevanion, by whom she fell pregnant twice. After the second pregnancy ended in a miscarriage, she eloped with him to France in 1831, at age 16/17.
- Isabella II of Spain (aged 16) was married to her double first cousin Francis, Duke of Cádiz (aged 24), in October 1846. The ceremony was held on Isabella's 16th birthday, and was a double wedding with Isabella's younger sister, Infanta Luisa Fernanda, marrying the Duke of Montpensier.
- Maria van Cortlandt (aged 16) was married to Jeremias van Rensselaer (aged 30) in July 1662, about a week before Maria's 17th birthday.
- Marguerite Sédilot (age 11 and a half) married Jean Aubuchon of Trois-Rivieres, Quebec on 19 Sep 1654.
- Arthur Dobbs (aged 73) married Justina Davis (aged 15) in 1762.
For the latter half of the 19th century between 13-18% of native-born white female first marriages in the US were under age 18.
- Harriet Howe (aged 15/16) married Henry Wilson (aged 28) in October 1840. Wilson later served as Vice President of the United States during the Grant administration.
- Eunice Winstead (aged 9) married Charlie Johns in 1937.
- Marilyn Monroe (aged 16) married James Dougherty (aged 21) in June 1942.
- Janet Leigh (aged 15) married John Carlisle (aged 18) in August 1942.
- Jill St. John (aged 16) married Neil Dubin (aged 22) in May 1957.
- Myra Brown (aged 13) married Jerry Lee Lewis (aged 22) on December 12, 1957. The marriage was repeated June 4, 1958 because his previous divorce wasn't finalized.
- Lana Wood (aged 16) married Jack Wrather Jr. (aged 18) in December 1962.
- Sherry Johnson (aged 11) was compelled by her mother to marry Alfonsa Tolbert (a deacon in their church and the man who had raped and impregnated Sherry) in March 1971.
- Rena Chynoweth (aged 16) was married to Ervil LeBaron (aged about 49) circa 1974. Chynoweth was among at least thirteen plural wives LeBaron married, many of whom were underage at the time of their marriages.