A thought occurred to me, sparked by reading a biography of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Lois McMaster Bujold’s Curse of Chalion at the same time. It seems to me that in some ways, arranged marriages for medieval aristocrats may have been a lot like modern jobs are for us: You’re going for financial security and decent perks, within the limits of what you can bring to the table in return. And while you really want happiness/deeper meaning to be part of that bargain, you didn’t get to opt out of marriage then any more than you could opt out of taking care of yourself financially today. (Technically, you could join the church instead, but since both men and women were making a lifelong bargain and bringing cash or property to the table in return for their position in the church, it feels close enough to marriage).
Putting it in those terms makes it feel less like children being sold into slavery by their parents and more like the kinds of practical choices everyone makes in life. It may change the way I write period pieces.