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Common-law marriage - means of erosion and dissolution of the family in the Crisana area (beginning of the 20th century)

Presa Univ. Clujeană
Publication Date
  • Geschichte
  • History
  • Transylvania
  • Crişana
  • Common-Law Marriage
  • Erosion
  • Dissolution
  • Sozialgeschichte
  • Historische Sozialforschung
  • Social History
  • Historical Social Research
  • Ehe
  • Familie
  • Ehescheidung
  • Religiöse Faktoren
  • Norm
  • Familienrecht
  • Nichteheliche Lebensgemeinschaft
  • Staat-Kirche
  • Rumänien
  • Ungarn
  • Marriage
  • Family
  • Divorce
  • Religious Factors
  • Standard
  • Family Law
  • Domestic Partnership
  • National State-Church
  • Romania
  • Hungary
  • 10300
  • 30300
  • Political Science


Divorce, common-law marriage and illegitimacy (irrespective of its forms) were, no matter the society typology as the phenomenon is approached, forms of social deviation that entailed the dilution of the family image and norms. We do not discuss here about a dilution of the traditional norms concerning family, as someone might misunderstand, it was an erosion of the idea of family in general. The “family” could acquire different forms as compared to the “official” one. Paradoxically, all these were not only the result of personal emancipation, when the youth broke from the traditional norms, which were strongly influenced by religious norms and values, and would have got involved in “dangerous and shameful relationships”. The peasant “forgot” to marry his woman not out of emancipation. The theory of personal emancipation leading to the erosion of the idea of family through the dilution of traditional norms, which was valid from the urban perspective (here, due to the affirmation of modernity, the alterity of religious norms led to such relationships), was not supported in the peasant countryside. The Church fought all these. In fact, the bishopric sent guidelines to priests to take steps against common-law marriages very often. Despite priests’ endeavours, the results were not considerable. Few priests could boast (after the first recommendation) in their subsequent parish report to have significantly contributed to diminishing the number of common-law marriages in their parish. The Church faced another issue brought about by its long debate with the State to control the act of marriage. The marriage laws set out in 1894 were the most complex laws regulating the political-religious relations in the matrimonial field in the second half of the 19th century. Due to their clarity, they managed to put an end to the conflicts between the lay and church authorities. Moreover, the debate concerning matrimonial issues for different confessions ended, too, in favour of the State. The State managed to impose its authority in the matrimonial field. The Church was thus compelled to accept the increased competence of the State by introducing the civil documents. All these caused mutations that triggered very different behaviours. Nevertheless, the Church kept imposing religious marriage, divorce and re-marriage for all its parishioners. In such a situation, by analysing the evolution of common-law marriages from the perspective of the Church, we may notice that, on the level of the whole area we focused on, there was a greater easiness in approaching religious marriage after 1895, once the compulsory civil marriage was imposed. The perception of the divorce also changed when the civil matrimonial law was introduced at the end of 1894. Through a last effort, as the Church did not acknowledge lay divorce, they did not grant the right to a second marriage to the individuals. Moreover, from the perspective of the Church, the possible future marriage was considered as a mere common-law marriage, although the State approved of the divorce and the second marriage in which a divorced partner was involved.

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