Journal of Undergraduate Research


catholic marriage, french basque impediments, marriage laws


Family, Home, and Social Sciences




In 1563, the Council of Trent exercised fundamental societal control by enforcing marriage laws within the Catholic church which outlined in detail the process of marriage. Every Catholic marriage required a pre-marriage investigation.1 This new structure forbade couples from marrying within the 4th degree of consanguinity (blood relation) or the 4th degree of affinity (by marriage), nor where there existed a previous betrothal, impotence, one party not a Catholic, or the inability to read the banns if the bride or groom was not from the same diocese, etc. A waiver to any impediment required the overseeing bishop of the diocese to appeal to the authority of the Pope.2 A study of why marriage waivers were requested and granted could reveal social and cultural implications of historical importance–particularly in the Basque countries of both France and Spain. The Basque people, known as the “mystery people” of Europe because of their unique language and archaeological history, were divided in 1512 between Spain and France down the Pyrenees mountain range.3 In 1539, through the Edict of Villers-Cotterets, all legal documents in France had to be written in French. A comprehensive analysis of marriage dispensation records has not been completed for the French Basque area.

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