Sunday, June 26, 2011

Question from Mary R - Papal dispensations for non-royal marriages

I was wondering about papal dispensations for marriages. Who had to have them? Was it only Royalty or did the nobility need them, too (If so the pope must have been a very busy guy). Did the dispensation cost money, and if so how much? Was there a sliding scale:) What about the peasants? I know the parish priests kept records on who was related to whom; but many of the villages were very small. I also know that a lot of people never traveled more than a couple of miles from home during their entire lives. How did this work?


Anonymous said...

I found a reference, albeit in a "well researched novel" to the Earl of Warwick paying the necessary coin to secure a dispensation from the Pope for the marriage of his daughter, Isabel, to George, Duke of Clarence (brother to Edward IV). The rule seems to have been that you should not marry within the seventh degree of kinship. So far as the common people went, might the parish priests have been allowed to make dispensations of their own in the name of the "Holy Father"? Pure speculation on my part:) If anyone has more knowledge than this, please share it!

Rapunzela said...

I would be astonished if commoners could identify relatives beyond the fourth degree or so, especially given that life expectancy at the time would have prevented most of them from knowing their grandparents, and indeed, they would have lost their parents shortly after reaching adulthood. Most of them were illiterate, so written records would not have been kept at home nor read at the courthouse. What is the source of the "seventh degree"?