Note: See also the files: Ger-marriage-msg, Scot-marriage-msg, p-customs-msg, bastards-msg, p-births-msg, burials-msg

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Period marriage.
NOTE: See also the files: Ger-marriage-msg, Scot-marriage-msg, p-customs-msg, bastards-msg, p-births-msg, burials-msg.

This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.

This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at:
I have done a limited amount of editing. Messages having to do with separate topics were sometimes split into different files and sometimes extraneous information was removed. For instance, the message IDs were removed to save space and remove clutter.
The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I make no claims as to the accuracy of the information given by the individual authors.
Please respect the time and efforts of those who have written these messages. The copyright status of these messages is unclear at this time. If information is published from these messages, please give credit to the originator(s).
Thank you,

Mark S. Harris AKA: THLord Stefan li Rous

Stefan at


From: vader at (]ke Eldberg)


Subject: Period gay marriage ceremony

Date: 12 Jun 94 01:50:27

Organization: Indiana Jones University
Greetings from William de Corbie!
I noticed a short while ago a posting here on the Rialto concerning a

"period marriage ceremony for homosexuals" or something to that effect.

The posting contained a pointer to somewhere else, but I believe that

it probably referred to a thing that has attracted much attention

lately in various newsgroups. There exists an Orthodox ceremony of

"spiritual friendship" which has quickly been termed by the gay

community as a "marriage ceremony for men".
This is only FYI and not an attempt to discuss the matter itself.
The service in the form it has been posted to Usenet is translated from

the Euchologion of Jacobus Goar, which was printed in 1647 and revised

in 1730. A facsimile of the 1730 edition, published in Graz, Austria,

in 1960, is available in many theological libraries. This is a Latin

source for a Greek ceremony, so it should be treated with caution.
In fact, the rite is called an order (akolouthia) for adelphopoiian,

that is, for making an adelphos, that is, for adopting one as brother

(or sister). The proper analogue is not marriage, but adoption. Still,

gay activists have taken its existence as evidence of ancient church

recognition of homosexual relationships.
The "Pedalion" which is more or less an Orthodox version of canon law,

says: "So called brothership-by-adoption is not only prohibited by ch.35

of Title XIII of Book V of the law (p.217 of _Jus Greco-Romanum_)

altogether, and rejected by the Church of Christ, but is also contrary

to nature, according to Demetrius Chomatianus(ibid.). For adoption

imitates nature, but nature never generates a brother, but only a son.

So adoption, as imitating nature, cannot make a brother."
I do not intend to start a debate on the Rialto about the facts

of the case, only to inform readers that they should not believe bold

assertions that there exists a period, accepted marriage ceremony for

homosexuals -- the age, validity and meaning of the adelphoia ceremony

is very much under discussion, and the "gay wedding" interpretation

seems like a very unlikely explanation.

Please refer all discussion to an appropriate group.

From: dani at


Subject: Re: Nicolaa's articles #4

Date: 13 Jul 1994 18:10:00 -0400

Organization: Telerama Public Access Internet, Pittsburgh, PA USA

Susan Carroll-Clark :

>If a couple were too closely related (usually within the third or

>fourth degree), the marriage could not occur...
Seventh degree, but the definition of 'degree' changed midstream.

The Romans counted links in the family tree, so your first

cousin might be your father's father's daughter's daughter -- four

links, and hence related in the fourth degree. So you could marry

a third cousin, but not a second cousin. In the ninth century,

the definition was changed so that you checked the tree back seven

generations. In other words, your first cousin was now related in

the second degree, because you had a common ancestor two generations

back. Needless to say, the chance of two prominent people *not*

having a common ancestor seven generations back was modest enough

that the greater degrees of consanguinity tended to be ignored unless

it was in someone's interest to do otherwise. For example, when

Eleanor of Aquitaine and Louis of France came to terminate their

marriage, a previously-overlooked consanguinity (I forget whether

it was fourth or fifth degree) was dug up to justify an annulment.


Dani of the Seven Wells

dani at dani at

From: pat at (Pattie McGregor)


Subject: Boswell's book on Same Sex Marriages in Period

Date: 10 Jun 1994 11:57:51 -0700

Organization: House Northmark, Mountains' Gate, Cynagua, The West

Keywords: Research, gays, marriage, books

Greetings to the Rialto from siobhan --
This article came across the GEMCS-L mailing list (a research

list on early modern culture): you can subscribe by sending

to LISTSERV at; put this line in the text of your


--- forwarded message ---
Date: Fri, 10 Jun 1994 13:12:41 -0500 (CDT)

From: Kris Zapalac

Subject: RE: doonesbury

For everyone out there in cyberspace who missed the relevant article in

the New York Times (as I did), John Boswell's new book is out (and in

several university libraries already according to the WorldCat listing),

though I've not yet seen it reviewed:
John Boswell, Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe (New York:

Villiard, 1994). ISBN 0679432280.

It should be worth reading... and is sure to spark a bit of controversy.
Kris Zapalac


Washington University in St Louis

kzapalac at


Siobhan Medhbh O'Roarke / Pat McGregor

Sharing her time between Crosston & 3060 Ridgeline Drive

Mountain's Gate/Golden Rivers Rescue, CA 95672

pat at (916) 677-6607

siobhan at (415) 903-1448 (days)

From: b.scott at (Brian M. Scott)


Subject: Re: Marriage in Mediaeval times...

Date: 17 Oct 1995 04:51:43 GMT

Organization: Cleveland State University
"'Jherek' W. Swanger" says:

>On Tue, 3 Oct 1995 tylauren at wrote:

>> I was pondering the medieval marriage the other day and our local

>> library couldn't help me. When a woman married, did she take her

>> husbands name? And when he died, did she keep it?


>I have been told (although I never bothered to double check) that in

>Reformation Germany, the custom was for the couple to take the family

>name of whichever side was more prosperous. If the wife's family was

>wealthier, she kept her name and the husband changed his.
This should be considered a response to the original posting, which I

missed. There is no simple answer to the question, even in a relatively

small area like England. According to Cecily Clark (in _The Cambridge

History of the English Language_, Vol. II, ed. by Norman Blake), a woman

of the post-Conquest English nobility might in the 12th c. retain her own

family byname after marriage and even pass it on to whichever son inherited

the lands in question, but after about 1300 it was conventional for a wife

to adopt her husband's family name. The lower classes were slower to adopt

the practice. The sketchy available evidence suggests that the matrimonial

bynaming (i.e., the custom whereby a woman adopted her husband's byname)

became the rule in much of the country during the 14th c. (though with

many individual exceptions), but that in the North a significant number of

women bore bynames independent of their husbands' into the 16th c. Certainly

the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379 recorded many names of the form 'Ibota

Dicconwyf', i.e., Ibota (a diminutive of Isabel) the wife of Diccon'.
For 14th c. Germany I've seen citations like 'Katherina Bonnen', which is

essentially 'Bono's Katherina', but I've no way to know whether Bono was

her father or her husband. The same construction occurs with the husband's

or father's byname: 'Muelners Els' is the Els (Elizabeth) of a man called

Muelner (miller). One even finds such references as 'Dietl Engelmanin';

here the husband is Dietl; 'Engelman' is probably his surname, but it

might be her father's, and *her* given name doesn't appear at all! The

only way to tell that the name refers to a woman is by the feminine ending

-in on the surname. Even in the 16th c. one finds records like 'Steffan

Eberleins Weib', i.e., the wife of Steffan Eberlein. But these are names

as recorded in official documents; what these people were called in daily

life may have been quite different - or it may not. ('Muelners Els', for

instance, sounds like something that she might have been called even by

her neighbors when there was a need to distinguish her from another Els

in the village.)
In places where a patronymic system of naming persisted into the Middle

Ages, women seem generally to have kept their own patronymics. (After all,

marrying doesn't change one's father's name.) This is the case today in

Iceland, for instance, and it was probably pretty wide-spread in mediaeval

Ireland, at least outside of the more important families.
Talan Gwynek

From: jswanger at ('Jherek' W. Swanger)


Subject: Re: Scottish Personas Help!!!

Date: 8 Oct 1996 01:43:08 GMT

Organization: University of Washington, Seattle

Womyn2me wrote:

>> Anyway, here are some answers to your questions about Scottish women.

>> The religion would have been basically Catholic, with many pagan

>> traditions and superstitions thrown in. The wedding would have been an

>> old Catholic ritual (once again for a little idea, watch Braveheart).


>actually, that was a handfasting (with a priest thrown in to show the

>movie audience that it was supposed to be a wedding...)
At that point in history it would not have even been necessary to have

a priest in attendance. Marriage in and of itself was considered

somewhat of a social/secular affair. So while the Church liked to

ensure moral behavior (e.g. discouraging the practice of having

concubines), its role in the wedding ceremony was more to bless the

couple than anything else. By the early 15th century, the Church was

strongly encouraging the presence of a priest (In 1403, a German bishop

wrote to one of his subordinates that any couples marrying without a

priest in attendance were to be threatened with excommunication), but

it wasn't until the Council of Trent in 1545, that the Church formally

required priests to officiate at weddings.
Back to the Braveheart thing, at that time, the only thing necessary

for a couple to marry was to exchange vows, sometimes as simple as

"Will you marry me?" "Yes." You didn't even need witnesses.
For references, please see my bibliography of works dealing with

medieval and Renaissance wedding customs at:

(not jherek)

From: Gretchen M Beck


Subject: Re: Scottish Personas Help!!!

Date: Tue, 8 Oct 1996 13:45:41 -0400

Organization: Computer Operations, Carnegie Mellon, Pittsburgh, PA
Excerpts from 7-Oct-96 Re: Scottish Personas

Help!!! Bryan J. Maloney at cornell (558)

> Handfastings were not weddings, nor were they "pagan"--they were a result

> of the fact that the Christian priests of the day had to act as "circuit

> riders", and one couldn't always have a priest handy to do a marriage

> whenever. Thus, you had a "handfasting", and the matter was then

> solemnized/rendered official when the priest made it 'round.
Technically, and especially in Scotland, you don't need a priest, or a

handfasting--all that's required is the agreement to a wedding contract

between the two individuals involved. In Scotland, for most of period,

if you agreed between the two of you that you were married, you

were--this also applied to England (see the issue of whether Anne Boleyn

or Catherine Howard had secretly arranged a marriage before their

marriages to Henry).
Usually the procedure went like this: the parties involved (or rather

their parents/guardians) arranged a marriage contract, in which the

various goods/monies/services each party would provide to the marriage

were spelled out. Bans were posted so that anyone claiming a prior

contract could come forward. If none introduced a prior claim, then the

couple declared themselves married before witnesses--usually, though not

necessarily, in front of a priest.
toodles, margaret

[submitted by Brother Cleireac of Inisliath, Hank Harwell ]

From: Laura C Minnick

To: perrel at

Date: Mon, 8 Mar 1999 13:39:11 -0800 (PST)

Subject: [PerRel] Re: Marriage Law and Crossbow Weddings

All right, you've twisted my arm (ow!ow!) so I will tell you about

Crossbow Weddings...

I use the term Crossbow Weddings jokingly, of course, but it is the

easiest way to immediately communicate the concept of a marriage

undertaken under duress. Generally, the marriages that we are concerned

with here are those that end up in the courts, because on or the other of

the parties disputes the validity of the marriage. English case law is

full of these cases (what is with these English, after all?). In the

great majority of them, the woman comes to the court, insisting that she

is married to a certain man, and wanting the court to enforce the

marriage and make him live with her as her husband. The man usually

replies by saying that they are not married and he wants nothing to do

with her. The story develops from there.
These marriages are nearly always clandestine marriages- without

witnesses, which is one of the reasons why the Church was pushing for a

formal, public exchange of consent- to unclog the courts. In these cases,

one of the favorite defenses of the man is to say "Yes, I exchanged

present words with her- but I didn't mean it! I was under duress, and was

being threatened!" Then the court has to examine the nature of the

duress. The Church's definition of duress that was sufficient to nullify

a marriage is called Force and Fear- specifically, "that which would

cause a strong man to faint", perhaps not literally, but you get the

meaning. So the question that arises when a man says he was forced into

the marriage is: how much force is enough?
Two examples. First, a young couple is in the barn, taking, er,

liberties with each other that should not be taken but by those who are

well and truly married. The woman's father comes upon them, and

understandably upset, holds a scythe tto the man's throat while the

exchange words of present consent. Later, the young man takes off, the

young woman is pregnant, and she goes to the Church court for redress- to

have her 'husband' return and take his proper place as husband and

father. He insists there was no marriage, that his words of consent were

not true, because he was under duress.
Second, A young man rents a bed in an inn. He sneaks a young woman in

with him, and they are making sport when the landlady comes in and finds

them. She is quite irate and screams and yells and threatens them with a

warming-pan. She insists they exchange words of present consent, and they

do, so she leaves the room and they continue about their business. Later,

when the young woman finds she is pregnant, she names the young man and

insists that he is the father and her husband. He laughs at this and she

goes to the Church courts.

By the measure of force and fear, the first young man is off the hook-

the scythe at his throat is lethal force and enough to nullify any words

he said. The unfortunate young woman will likely become an outcast,

though some kind-hearted (or opportunistic) man may marry her, though the

child will always have the stigma of bastardy.
The second young man, however, is in a pickle. And angry landlady is not

sufficient threat to count as force and fear, and the words exchanged,

though impromptu, are binding, especially since they were followed by

intercourse. He is married, and the child is his responsibility.

If anyone is interested, I might write about a similar subject- that of

child 'marriages' and the issue of coercion there.

Any questions? The two examples are from case law- I particularly like

the mental image of the angry landlady- I like to use the example when I

teach classes.

Father Abelard


Laura C. Minnick

University of Oregon

Department of English

[submitted by Brother Cleireac of Inisliath, Hank Harwell ]

From: Laura C Minnick

To: perrel at

Date: Mon, 8 Mar 1999 20:43:44 -0800 (PST)

Subject: [PerRel] Re: Marriage Law and Crossbow Weddings
On Mon, 8 Mar 1999, dan meehan wrote:

> I understand that there was a form of marriage where the groom

> basically steals the bride. Is there any case law concerning this?
Oh yes! (Just the question I was hoping for!) This is called an

Abduction, and there is a great deal of case law on it because it is

considered a great disruption to the social fabric.
To start, there are two kinds of impediment to a marriage- that which

makes a marriage illicit, and that which makes a marriage illegal. A

marriage by abduction can fall into either or both categories. So we sort

them out.

An illicit marriage is one made outside of the community standards:

i.e., without witnesses, without knowledge or consent of the families,

etc. If a marriage is _illicit_ it does not follow that it is _illegal_

and therefore invalid. The couple who exchanges words of the present in

the barn because the woman is loath to lose her maidenhead without being

married first is married, validly though illicitly. (They will probably

be required to perform some penance for their misdeeds.) However, a good

example of an impediment that would render a marriage invalid (this is

called a _diriment_ impediment) is an impediment of crime. For instance,

a young married woman has an affair with her neighbor. Her husband has a

heart attack in the fields and is carried home dead. The young neighbor

then asks the widow to marry him. They may 'marry', but in the eyes of

the Church, and before God they are _not_ married, because their crime of

adultery has created a diriment impediment, such that cannot simply be

wiped out by penance. (In fact, some Church fathers would have you

believe that neither of them might marry at all, but that goes farther

than Gratian and his glossators say- they only state that the adulterous

couple may not marry each other.)

Now, as to our abductions. The licitness or legality of the marriage

hinges on a couple of things. Firstly, the consent of the two parties

involved, the force used in the abduction and against whom it was used.
Suppose a young woman falls in love with a man from a neighboring town.

Her father does not want her to marry outside of her village and forbids

her to see her suitor. On summer evening, she and her family are sitting

in front of their house after the evening meal, enjoying the last rays of

sun. A horse rides up- it is the suitor, and before the horrified eyes of

her family, the girl runs to the horse, the man scoops her up and they

ride of down the road to a parish church, where they exchange words of

present consent with the priest and his sexton as witness.

Suppose a shepherdess is in the field when a hostile troop comes across

the plain. One of the troops thinks her attractive, puts her across his

saddle, and rides off with her kicking and screaming.
Suppose a Baron has a daughter of marriageable age, and a neighboring

Count lusts after her (and some of her father's lands). The Baron refuses

to entertain offers for his daughter from the Count, knowing him to be a

vain, cruel man who treats members of his household like cattle. One day,

at a civic festival, while the daughter sits in the gallery with her

parents, watching the tournament, some of the Count's men ride up, snatch

the girl away from her parents, and ride off with her screaming for help

and begging for mercy.

Which of these three, if any, are married?
In the first case, the girl has obviously consented, and because no

force was used against her or her family, the marriage stands. (But I

would suppose that her family will harbor a grudge against the young

husband for some time!) Interestingly, before Gratian and the

codification of many divergent laws, this couple would have been declared

to have an invalid marriage, and the girl would be sent back to her

parents. After Gratian (mid 12th. c.) it was recognized that the consent

of the parties overruled the objections of the parents, and the marriage

was Valid, though illicit. They had to do penance, but could go set up

housekeeping in peace.

In the second case, there is an impediment of crime- that of the force

and fear used to carry her off. There can be no marriage, valid or licit,

and at best there is penance for the man. In this case the head of the

troop, if he is a good Christian, would have the foolish man horsewhipped.

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