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Council Legislation on Marriage



Further it was laid down that no man should give his daughter or female relative to anyone without priestly blessing. If he does otherwise, it should not be adjudged a proper (legitimum) marriage but like the union of fornicators. We forbid in every way substitutes for churches.


Matrimony is not to be secret but open, in the face of the church.

c. COUNCIL OF LONDON, 1200, c. 11.

What sort of people ought to contract marriage? Let not a man contract marriage with any blood relation oif his former wife, similarly a woman with the blood relative of her former husband. And let a child taken from the font in baptism not contract with the daughter of the baptizer or of the one who took him up, whether she be born before or after. And let not any marriage be contracted unless there is a threefold proclamation in the church, nor if the persons are not known. And let persons not be joined in matrimony unless publicly in the face of the church with a priest present. If it is done otherwise, let them not be admitted anywhere in church without special permission of the bishop. Let it be allowed to neither party to a marriage to undertake a journey involving travel to distant places unless they [first] make public the mutual consent [of both]. Saving in all things [the honor and privilege of the holy Roman church].

[Tr. from Councils & Synods, I (1981) based on C. Donahue]

Translation by Paul Hyams of Cornell University. See his Course Page?. He indicated that the translations are available for educational use. He intends to expand the number of translations, so keep a note of his home page.

This text is listed as part of the Internet Medieval Source Book. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts related to medieval and Byzantine history.

Paul Halsall Jan 1996
[email protected]


The Internet History Sourcebooks Project is located at the History Department of  Fordham University, New York. The Internet Medieval Sourcebook, and other medieval components of the project, are located at the Fordham University Center for Medieval Studies.The IHSP recognizes the contribution of Fordham University, the Fordham University History Department, and the Fordham Center for Medieval Studies in providing web space and server support for the project. The IHSP is a project independent of Fordham University.  Although the IHSP seeks to follow all applicable copyright law, Fordham University is not the institutional owner, and is not liable as the result of any legal action.

© Site Concept and Design: Paul Halsall created 26 Jan 1996: latest revision 1 February 2023 [CV]