Dumetz Family Marriage Contracts
Scope and Contents
The Dumetz Family Marriage Contracts date from 1642 to 1705 and include four French marriage contracts, handwritten in black ink on vellum sheets, then folded and sewn in folios. The notary's stamp appears on the 1680, 1688, and 1705 contracts.
- 1642 - 1705
- Dumetz family (Family)
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Collection is open for research.
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Copyright is retained by the creators of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
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Biographical or Historical Information
Marriage in the seventeenth century was an alliance of property rather than affection. Because the marriage of a child required the transfer of property, and thus involved inheritance and succession rights, parents most often chose their child's life partner in the interest of posterity. Marriage contracts are thus very useful in the study of social groups and social mobility.
The Church at this time continued to stress the sacramental nature of marriage and, since the Edict of Blois in 1586 forbade notaries to hear promises of marriage, a priest was necessary to conclude the ceremony. In its continuing struggle with the Church for supremacy, the State, through the royal lawyers, developed a contractual theory of marriage that put forward the argument for royal rather than clerical control of the institution. The marriage contract was thus the juridical device whereby the monarchy asserted the right of the State to regulate marriage.
Marriage contracts were drafted by notaries and signed at some time between the betrothal and the wedding, which could be a matter of hours.
The contract was an elastic document into which any clauses could be inserted provided that they did not contravene the law or public morality. The standard wording consisted of an opening declaration that two parties had mutually promised la foi de mariage and were about to accomplish that promise, followed by details of the material and financial contributions that each was making to the conjugal community and the advantages that should accrue to the surviving party.
A flourish of signatures terminated the list of dotal provisions, custom decreeing that as many notables as possible be invited to sign along with parents and relatives in order to enhance the social standing of the family. Before adding their signatures, the well-bred young couple would bow in the direction of their parents to request permission. (Gibson. Women in Seventeenth-Century France. NY: St. Martin's, 1989).
Since marriage contracts were drawn up for individuals, they vary quite remarkably and are often quite complex, but all marriage contracts recorded the legal status of the persons involved, the nature of the property being transmitted, and the province or region in which the persons and/or property were located.
0.20 Linear Feet (1 box)
Language of Materials
The Dumetz Family Marriage Contracts date from 1642 to 1705 and include four French marriage contracts, handwritten in black ink on vellum sheets, then folded and sewn in folios.
Method of Acquisition
Gift of Luther Self, 1990.
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- Dumetz Family Marriage Contracts
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