Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index


  • Record Number: 10511
  • Author(s)/Creator(s): Hammer , Carl I.
  • Contributor(s):
  • Title: The Handmaid's Tale: Morganatic Relationships in Early- mediaeval Bavaria [evidence from law codes and deeds].
  • Source: Continuity and Change 10, 3 (Dec. 1995): Pages 345 - 368.
  • Description:
  • Article Type: Journal Article
  • Subject (See Also): Bavaria Charters and Diplomatics Children Concubines Inheritance Law Marriage Slaves Social History
  • Geographic Area: Germany
  • Century: 8- 9- 10- 11- 12
  • Related Resources:
  • Primary Evidence: Charter; Private charters or deeds of conveyance for Bavaria from the ninth through the twelfth centuries. Hammer selects thirty- nine documents from episcopal and monastic cartularies for analysis of morganatic relationships.
  • Illustrations:
  • Table: Two tables. The first represents a typology of morganatic relationships based on sex of free partner and ownership of servile partner, whether by the free partner or by another master. The second table categorizes the cases in the thirty- nine deeds including provisions for mate, son, and daughter.
  • Abstract: In early- mediaeval society, despite the fundamental division between those who were legally free and those who were unfree, there existed mixed sexual relationships and more permanent unions between men and women of different conditions. By at least the eighth century some of these unions might be considered valid marriages. This paper examines normative evidence from early- mediaeval law codes and 39 case studies from Bavarian deeds to describe the circumstances of such relationships and the responses to the difficulties which they entailed. Regardless of the precise nature of the relationship, the offspring were unfree, and the property and even the freedom of the non- servile partner might be endangered. From the late eighth century free Bavarians, male and female, attempted to address these problems and ameliorate the condition of their unfree partners and their offspring, particularly males, through a variety of arrangements. The dominant strategy by the tenth century was to introduce the servile parties into a form of privileged dependency on the Church where an annual fixed payment ("census") served in lieu of any other obligations. [Reproduced by permission of Cambridge University Press].
  • Author's Affiliation:
  • Conference Info: - , -
  • Year of Publication: 1995.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN/ISBN: 02684160
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