Uwagi o wieku uprawniającym do zawarcia małżeństwa w Wielkim Księstwie Litewskim w XVI-XVIII wieku


  • Marzena Liedke


Some remarks about marriageable age in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in the 16th–18th centuries

The author examines the problem of marriageable age in the Christian secular and canon laws as well as Jewish and Tartar laws in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in the 16th–18th centuries. She points to the extent to which the lower age limit specified by the law was indeed used in practice. The basis for her analysis is provided by secular and religious normative acts as well as the literature on the subject.
The Catholic and Protestant canon laws made it possible for women to marry at 12 and for men to marry at 14. In the Orthodox Church, on the other hand, in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, this age for women was 12 or 13 and for men 14 or 15. The Jews could marry off their daughters when they were 12 or 13, and their sons when they were 13; the Muslim, respectively, probably as of the age of 9 daughters and 12 sons.
Thus, these laws allowed people to marry at a relatively early age, but in practice the lower limit as defined legally was rarely applied. In Poland Christian women married aged, on average, between 18 and 24.5, while men married usually when they were over 26 years old. Jewish men married when they were around 18 years old, later than their women.
The minimum legal age making it possible for people to marry did not have to denote the age of majority, which the secular law in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania set at 18 for men and 13 for women 15 until 1588.






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