Att söka kungligt tillstånd för giftermål: äktenskapsansökningar från besläktade personer under svenskt 1700-tal

Bonnie Clementsson

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7557/4.3082

Keywords

incest; kinship; marriage; dispensation; cousin marriages; values; social history; consanguineous marriages; affinal marriages

Abstract

To Ask for the King’s Permission to Marriage: Applications for Marriage between Relatives in Eighteenth Century Sweden. In early modern Western society regulations against incestuous relationships were primarily justified by religion, and kinship by blood and kinship by marriage were treated equally. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries Swedish law was among the strictest in these matters, and violations were often punished by execution. Simultaneously, it was possible to ask the king’s permission for a dispensation for marriage between more distant relatives. During the second half of the eighteenth century the number of dispensation applications rose significantly, implying a turning point in attitudes. This article investigates arguments in dispensation applications and subsequent responses from decision holders. The aim is to illustrate how parallel values in society, apart from those of religion, affected the way different relationships were perceived. The study shows that applicants used a range of arguments in persuading authorities that their relationships should be allowed. However, even though authorities took an interest in whether or not applicants were good Christians, and whether or not relationships were honourable (not carnal), there was one decisive factor for granting or denying the applications. If the applicants’ family positions crossed different generations (e.g. man/uncle’s widow) it was considered that the “natural parental respect” would be jeopardised and, irrespective of the applicants’ ages, the application was denied.

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License URL: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/