Between Betrothal and Bedding

Marriage Formation in Sweden 1200-1600


Swedish medieval marriage formation was a process, written down in the secular laws. However, it started to evolve because of the interaction with the medieval Catholic marriage doctrine, which focused on mutual words of consent. Although first the canon law of marriage, and then Lutheran marriage dogma influenced the Swedish development, the perception of marriage as a process, consisting of several legal acts and accompanied by property transfers, proved remarkably resilient. The pragmatic and rural character of Sweden contributed to this, despite pressure from canon and Roman law and attempts at bringing marriage formation under ecclesiastical control. Marrying by stages was in itself unremarkable in Europe, but the legal foundation and formality make medieval and sixteenth-century Sweden a unique case study.
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Biographical Note

Mia Korpiola, Doctor of Laws (2004), is Reader (Docent) in legal history at the University of Helsinki. She has published on medieval and early modern marriage and sexual crime and the influence of canon and Roman law on Swedish law.

Table of contents

List of Illustrations

1. The Process: Traditional Marriage
2. The Act: The Making of Marriage in MEdieval Canon Law
3. The Challenge: Controlling Marriage Formation in Medieval Sweden
4. Ecclesiastical Control vs. Traditional MArriage Formation in Reformation Sweden

Sources and Bibliography


All those interested in medieval, Reformation and comparative legal history, family history, medieval and Reformation history, Scandinavian studies and the history of the Church.


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