Single party sigmaringen

In this essay I try to clarify a set of related concepts: unequal marriage, mismarriage, morganatic marriage.They represent an important aspect of dynastic and succession laws in German dynasties.They have in common that, in almost all cases, they were written rules edicted by a sovereign.Concerning these marriage rules, Germany's history is unique for several reasons.

German society, like others shaped by feudalism, was divided in states or estates (Standen).

One direct approach was to introduce primogeniture, the rule that everything went to the eldest born; but few (aside from Brandenburg in the late 15th c.) were successful, at least early enough.

Another approach was to limit the ability of younger sons to marry, or to curtail the claims of their offspring.

Further gradations could be made: Blackstone distinguished within the nobility the degrees of the peerage, and within the commonalty knights, esquires, gentlemen, tradesmen, artificers and laborers; but ultimately, in English law, the only distinction that really mattered was that between peers and commoners.

In German society, these distinctions mattered quite a bit more than in England.

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