Private Marriages

Private Marriages

by: Karen Ann Divver

A private marriage was a marriage where the bridal couple gave each other the sacrament of marriage without it occuring in a church. The Church deemed the marriage valid because it was the couple who should be bestowing the sacrament to each other. Private marriages caused many problems for the Church and the courts. Often one of the couple abandoned the marriage and then tried to remarry. In some cases, the "remarried" spouse has had children before the abandoned spouse could find their spouse and tell of their marriage. The Church would then deem the second marriage void and any children from that marriage were then labeled bastards. The secular government then urged the Church to declare such marriages invalid because of the controversy they caused. The Church eventually did declare private marriages invalid, but they did not die out until much later in the Middle Ages (Shahar 83+).

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