marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,

To Love, Honor, and Obey in Colonial Mexico

To Love, Honor, and Obey in Colonial Mexico: Conflicts over Marriage Choice, 1574-1821 by Patricia Seed

A study of an era in which a great change occurred.

At the beginning, shortly after the Council of Trent had decreed that parental consent was not necessary to a valid marriage, the culture strongly supported the free choice of martial partner. The young couple would affirm strongly that their decision sprung from attachment, will, and liking -- not some mad infatuation. They could bring up that their parents wanted them not to marry from financial reasons, differences in status, or other invalid causes, and the society supported them. The church would dispense banns, put young women in temporary custody to free them from parental pressures, and even use force to extract children from situations where the parents would compel them. Honor was important -- covering up that the young woman had lost her virginity outside the bounds of marriage, and requiring that men and women honor their promises to marry.  Parents only had the power to try to fudge up an impediment to the union under canon law.

This changed.  Parents gained more ability to interfere and allege their children's decision was unstable, aided by the increasing tendency of children to weasel out of their promises.  (And the interfering parent was no longer as likely to be the mother as the father; widows interfered, but overwhelmingly fathers took the matter on.)  The secular authorities limited the church's ability to use force, and delayed it when they did not deny it.  Money and status gain respectability as ground for complaining of the child's intended spouse, the honor that took precedence was that of social status.  Slowly ending in a position of complete parental vetoes.

An interesting study.
Tags: families: matrimony, families: parent/child, history reviews: 15th-18th centuries, world-building: law, world-building: religion

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