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in the legal dictionary.
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|Important Laws||Becoming "of age"||Consanguinity|
|A brief summary of laws important for genealogy research.
The collected Swedish laws are from old times divided into sub-collections named balk. Examples:
Beside these "regular" laws there have been a multitude of separate rules and regulations issued continuously as need arose. The laws were translated to Finnish language about 1600 and then as new ones were issued. (Finland was Swedish territory until 1809)
|Becoming of age|
|Early times: Women never obtained the legal status
of being "of age" except as a widow (since the middle ages).
Unmarried women had their father or, in his absence, another male close relative as her legal guardian - förmyndare. When she was about to marry he had to give his approval. In this context he is named giftoman.
From late 18th century an unmarried woman could become of age after approval by the local court. From 1858 such an application was automatically approved for a woman aged at least 25. After 1863 an application was no longer needed and unmarried women became of age automatically at the age of 25. In 1884 the age limit was lowered to 21 as for men.
Married women did not become of age. The husband was her
guardian until 1920. This meant that he could dispose of all her
belongings as he saw fit. If she owned a farm he became the legal owner
when they married.
a Widow was considered of age since early times but lost that status if she remarried.
|became of age at 15 in very early days. In 1721 the age was set at 21 and remained so until 1969 when it was lowered to 20 (men and all women). In 1974 it was again lowered to 18 (men and all women).|
|Consanguinity = Blood Relation|
|Blodsband (modern) or older blodsförvantskap.
Also named konsanguinitet (just as the English consanguinity)
derived from Lat con = with and sanguis = blood. This expression reflects the old misapprehension of blood as carrier of
heritage. The rules about blood relationship play a role in various
legal issues such as:
-- Certain degrees of consanguinity constitutes an impediment to marriage - read here.
-- the view on extra-marital sexual relations - termed "hor" and "lönskaläge", incestuous relation included.
Definitions used :
|Marriage - legal aspects|
|--- Morgongåva||old spelling morgongåfva literally translates to "morning gift".
This is nowadays a physical gift which the husband gives his wife on the morning after the wedding.
In modern terms the morgongåva may be regarded as an insurance on the husband's life with the wife as the beneficiary.
It is a tradition known in all Germanic peoples since oldest times. The background is that the wife had then no right to inherit her husband's estate so this was a specified pledge / promise of future inheritance rather than a physical gift. It was
regulated by law so it was a legally binding promise. The size of a morgongåva was of course never specified in the law - only that a registered morgongåva was legally binding and as such recorded in the marriage book which served as the official, legal document.
The size of a morgongåva was usually specified in terms of lod silver or in cash currency value (e.g. daler smt, Riksdaler Smt etc).
Lod silver (old spelling silfver)is a specified weight of pure silver where one lod corresponds to 13.17 grams in today's measurements.
Common values for farmers not owning land or only a small farm was 10 - 20 lod silver. The real value of this is complicated to calculate at different times but represented a substantial value to an average person.
The husband did not actually have to own the amount specified in the morgongåva at the time of the wedding (he was not expected to pay up front) - technically it was often based on what he would later inherit or acquire.
In Sweden this law was in effect until 1920 but lately limited to the rights of a widow with no children. If the couple had living children then they inherited their father and were by tradition obliged to care for their mother's needs.
Symbolically the morgongåva is a "return gift" for the dowry.
A similar arrangement was often made in old times for widowed members of the Royal family - especially widow queens. It was named livgeding (from German Geding = arrangement, settlement) and was the right to collect taxes and similar income from a specified geographical area - similar to förläning. This practice was prohibited by a law issued in 1720.
After the laws changed in the 19th century giving a widow the right to inherit from her husband this law had essentially played out its role but the tradition lives on (still does) as a physical gift given by the husband to his wife when they wake up after the wedding night. It is usually a valuable gift - very often an expensive piece of jewellery.
|--- Hemgift = dowry|
|Hemgift (dowry") is in most aspects the opposite of the "morgongåva".
The hemgift represents the belongings of the wife at the time of wedding
since until abt 100 years ago the husband automatically became the guardian
of his wife and hence the "care-taker" of all her belongings. This right
included the rights to her coming heritage as well so when she later
inherited anything after her father that became the property of her husband.
So in Sweden dowry has no likeness to the recently debated custom in India where the dowry is paid by the bride's family to that of the groom. The only remote similarity is that the family of the bride is (was) expected to pay the wedding costs.
|Äktenskapshinder - Impediments to marriage|
|Around 1940 the following impediments were listed in äktenskapsbalken
(the marriage laws). Most of them have been in effect for several
hundred years (unless otherwise specified)
2 Lack of consent
3 Mental illness
5 Venereal disease
7 Valid current marriage
8 Less than 10 months after separation
Numbers 1, 3, 4, 6c and 6d are dispensable i.e. exception can be
allowed by a government authority.
|First cousins were not allowed to marry before 1845.|
|In the catholic period divorce was not allowed. After the
change to protestant faith in early 16th century (the
"Reformation") divorce could be obtained only if a spouse
committed adultery or was "abandoned" (for a long period).
Even so there were strict regulations about the procedure including
attempting reunion, being warned and living separately for at least a
year. The official document was issued by the domkapitel (the
governing board in a diocese) and was named skiljobrev (skiljobref).
In 1810 the divorce rules eased a bit and, among other changes, the divorce could be effective in shorter time in cases of adultery or serious physical abuse.
|Hor, Lönskaläge (adultery)|
|Lönskaläge is the older legal term for commonly
and in later law texts is named hor.
This was often the most frequent type of case in the old häradsrätt (local/district courts). Repeat offence usually resulted in stricter punishment.
enkelt hor (simple "hor")
dubbelt hor (double
For both the above crimes there was usually an additional penalty imposed by the church - to "stå uppenbar skrift".
The definitions also influence the view on extra-marital sexual relations -
termed "hor" and "lönskaläge", incestuous relation included. In early times
this rendered a death penalty but was almost always converted to a heavy
fine and to "stå uppenbar skrift" (see below). From 1653 the penalty for
"enkelt hor" (sex between one married and one unmarried part) was always a
fine. The death penalty for "dubbelt hor" (both parties married but not to
each other) remained in effect until mid 18th century but as before converted to a fine before that.
|Old forms of punishment for crimes|
|Stå uppenbar skrift = offentlig kyrkoplikt|
|uppenbar = obvious, public. offentlig
= public. plikt = (old) punishment
meant that the sentenced person had to stand on a special podium - horpall - visible to the congregation at one or more Sunday masses. Their name was announced by the priest. Often they had to stand in front of the church door before the Sunday mass with naked shoulders and carrying a bunch of twigs (symbol of whipping)
This punishment was from 1741 replaced by a ceremony in the church vestry (enskild kyrkoplikt) with only the priest, the offender and a few selected persons present. 1855 this type of punishment was completely abandoned.
Explanation by F Haeffner unless otherwise stated.
|Last updated by||F Hae||2005-05-04 11:01||© Fredrik Haeffner, 2003|