Daily Archives: October 23, 2015
First I shall state some historical and cultural facts deemed helpful to reach the truth about the marriage under discussion.
1. From an article discussing the Age of consent historically, it gathered information from many acknowledged sources like the “Encyclopedia of Children and Childhood in History and Society”, “Children and Youth in History – Age of Consent Laws” by Stephen Robertson, University of Sydney-Australia, and “The Age of Marriage in Ancient Rome” by Lelis, Arnold , Percy, William A. , & Verstraete, Beert C.; we read the following:
In Ancient Rome, it was very common for girls to marry and have children shortly after the onset of puberty. In the 12th century A.D. “Gratian”: the influential founder of Canon law in medieval Europe, accepted age of puberty for marriage to be between 12 and 14 but acknowledged consent to be meaningful if the children were older than 7.1 There were authorities that said that consent could take place earlier. Marriage would then be valid as long as neither of the two parties annulled the marital agreement before reaching puberty, or if they had already consummated the marriage. It should be noted that Judges honored marriages based on mutual consent at ages younger than 7, in spite of what Gratian had said; there are recorded marriages of 2 and 3 years old. The American colonies followed the English tradition, and the law was more of a guide. For example, Mary Hathaway (Virginia, 1689) was only 9 when she was married to William Williams. Sir Edward Coke (England, 17th century) made it clear that: “the marriage of girls under 12 was normal, and the age at which a girl who was a wife was eligible for a dower from her husband’s estate was 9 even though her husband be only four years old.” The French Napoleonic Code established an age of consent of 11 years in 1791, which was raised to 13 in 1863. Portugal, Spain, Denmark and the Swiss cantons, initially set the age of consent at 10–12 years and then raised it to between 13 and 16 years in the second half of the 19th century. Historically, the English common law set the age of consent to range from 10 to 12. In the United States, by the 1880s, most states set the age of consent at 10-12, and in one state, Delaware, the age of consent was only 7. A New York Times article states that it was still aged 7 in Delaware in 1895. [End of adaptation from the article].
One famous example is Alexios II Komnenos (1169-1183 AD) who married Agnes of France. William II; Archbishop of Tyre; witnessed the wedding and reported that Agnes was eight on her arrival at Constantinople, while Alexios was thirteen. Though according to most 12th century views; she was three years too young for marriage; but the pope authorized the marriage and approved to it.