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Charles Donahue, Jr., “Clandestine Marriage” in the Later Middle Ages: A Reply, 10 Law & Hist. Rev. 315 (1992).

Abstract: Andrew J. Finch has taken issue in these pages with my interpretation of “clandestine” marriage in the later Middle Ages. He is certainly correct that the phenomenon of “clandestine” marriage in the high and late Middle Ages cannot be given a single explanation. As I said in the first piece that I wrote on the topic: “The cases provide evidence for the proposition that some people were genuinely confused about to whom they were married; that the Alexandrine rules were being used to defraud the innocent; and that they were being used by people to get out of marriages which had become intolerable for reasons quite unrelated to the Alexandrine rules.” And again: “while the reasons why the parties chose to marry informally rather than solemnly is in many cases obscure, there are some cases in which we may conclude that the parties chose informal marriage in order to escape pressure from their families or lords. Howard… and Homans… both suggest that the reason for informal marriage is that the Church was unable to enforce her rules on the ingrained marriage customs of the people. Turlan…, on the other hand, sees as I do informal marriage as a way of escaping both family and ecclesiastical pressure. The two views are not necessarily inconsistent. Varying motivations may have played a part in different places and times and among different individuals.”