Weird History The Most Lavish Dowries In History  

Carly Silver
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Throughout history, wealthy people – like many notable kings – had extravagant weddings. For these inestimably costly ceremonies, pre-celebration festivities often included very lavish dowries on behalf of the new brides. Sometimes, these nuptials that involved famous dowries took place between weird royals – like uncles and nieces and already closely-related cousins. But who had the biggest dowry in history?

A fair number of medieval and early modern princesses and archduchesses were given lots of land as their dowries, and their husbands wed them for the promises of great revenues from these properties. Sometimes, these territories were so vast they're nearly unthinkable. For example, Eleanor of Aquitaine brought the rulership of most of southwestern France – her duchy of Aquitaine – to both of her husbands. Anne of Denmark wed Eleanor's descendant, James VI of Scotland/I of England, and brought the Orkney Isles with her. But was this the biggest dowry in the world?

Other wives have brought a ton of cash with them to their newly minted husbands. Modern-day royal Marie-Chantal, Crown Princess of Greece, apparently brought $200 million to her new hubby, while Portuguese princess Catherine of Braganza gave her new spouse, Charles II of England, trading rights all over the world.

This Modern-Day Princess Got $200 Million From Her Dad

Marie-Chantal, Crown Princess ... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Most Lavish Dowries In History
Photo:  Frankie Fouganthin/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

Daughter of Robert Miller, a luxury goods billionaire, Marie-Chantal Miller was already rich, but she got more so by marrying a prince in exile. That man was Pavlos, Crown Prince of Greece, son of the ousted King Constantine and Queen Sophia. M-C wasn't royal, but she was super rich and hobnobbed with the highest society worldwide, so this match was a no-brainer. 

When Pavlos and Marie-Chantal married in 1995, she got a $200 million dowry from her dad. Apparently, so did her two sisters, Alexandra (who married a German prince) and Pia (who wed a Getty heir). The Miller family also hosted a giant pre-wedding reception for their little girl, which involved 1,300 guests. The royal wedding reception itself involved a tent shaped like the Acropolis! And the bride's pearl-encrusted wedding dress reportedly cost over $200,000.

Eleanor of Aquitaine is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Most Lavish Dowries In History
Photo: Freebase/Public domain

Medieval France wasn't a united country; it was divided into a bunch of individual duchies ruled by independent dukes, over whom the king of France held only nominal power. One such duchy was the wealthy Aquitaine – AKA most of southwestern France – upon which the Capetian dynasty of French kings had often cast covetous eyes. When Duke William X of Aquitaine named his eldest daughter Eleanor as his heiress (and died soon thereafter), King Louis VI (AKA "Louis the Fat") of France quickly snatched her up as the wife for his son and heir, the eventual Louis VII (who was super-religious, since he grew up in a monastery).

Eleanor united Aquitaine with Louis's territory, which was mostly just located around Paris. They stayed together for a bunch of years, but Eleanor was unhappy, and she never gave Louis a son. Once they split, Louis had to give back Aquitaine, but Eleanor soon married again – to Louis's arch-rival, Henry, Duke of Normandy (later king of England). Awkward!

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This Chinese Businessman's Daughter Had A $150 Million Dowry

This Chinese Businessman's... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Most Lavish Dowries In History
Photo: Richard.Fisher/flickr/CC-BY 2.0

In 2013, a Chinese billionaire didn't stint on his daughter's dowry. In total, her trousseau was valued at over £100 million (which would've been around $155 million at the time). Its contents? A little bit of everything, including luxury cars, bank notes, and tons of real estate gems like villas, storefronts, and mansions. The lucky gal's wedding took place over eight days, during which her father's many presents were bestowed upon her. How did this businessman afford everything? Who knows. Apparently, his previous year's salary was just £12,000.

Grace Kelly is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Lavish Dowries In History
Photo: elena-lu/flickr/CC-BY-NC 2.0

Despite the fact that actress Grace Kelly married into the princely Grimaldi family of Monaco, she was the one who had to bring a royal dowry to the marriage. Her dad was a champion rower, while her mom was the University of Pennsylvania's first-ever female sports coach. But Grace's father also made a ton of money in his brick business, so he was able to fork over $2 million to help pay for his daughter's wedding. Grace also had to undergo a fertility test to make sure she would be able to bear heirs to Prince Rainier, since his mistress ex was supposedly barren (although the ex-lover later gave birth to a kid).

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