The mystery of the page+ long marriage entry: 4th degree consanguinity and Incest

Someone on the facebook genealogy group posted a link to an incredibly long (1+ pages!) marriage entry in the matriky for Lomnice nad Lužnicí. She wanted to know what it meant, and I was curious too.

Here is an abstract of the record:

On 5 September 1762 Wenceslaus Wondruschka of Záblatí, legitimate son of Laurentis Wondurschka, rusticus, married Anna, the legitimate daughter of the deceased Thomas Novotny, rusticus.
Officiator was Father Adalbert Chollejch cappellan
Witnesses: ??to Neřad from Neplachov, Jakub Mašek of Mazelov[?], and Ursula Kuželova of Záblatí.
The couple obtained a dispensation allowing them to marry in the 4th degree of consanguinity.
That is all from the first page.

The second page is mostly the names and titles of the archbishop and other people involved in granting them the dispensation, such as Jan Mořic Gustav z Manderscheid-Blankenheimu.

To my understanding the most likely relationship Wenceslaus had to Anna, being related in the 4th degree of consanguinity, was that they were first cousins. But not necessarily.

It appears that not only did they get a dispensation (which was pretty common), they also had to be cleared by an ecclesiastical court (or at least by ecclesiastical officials) for the canonical crime of incest.

Which, they did, conditional upon doing some things like fasting, taking the communion with the bread and water, saying five Our Fathers and one Hail Mary for a certain amount of time.

Their marriage took place just in time for their child to be born legitimately: the next day! Doesn’t that seem a little...suspicious?

Incest was a big deal. According to this book about papal dispensations called Der Ursprung des Rechtsinsitutes der Päpstlichen Dispens von der Nicht Vollyogenen Ehe:

Ideo imponitur poenitentia paulo maior quam pro adulterio; nam si commisisset verum crimen incestus: puta, quia cognovisset consanguineam uxoris, tunc imponeratur gravior poenitentia, et multo maior, quam pro adulterio; quot patet ex illo, quia adulterium non inhabilitat ad matrimonium contrahendum “sed crimen incestus sic.”

Basically: incest is a lot worse than adultery.

I think it’s kind of strange that 4th degree consanguinity was considered incest, and not just compared to what is allowed today, but back then, too! Other parishes would have allowed 4th degree consanguinity marriages without this problem, I think. Apparently Anna had a child the very next day after this marriage, so she was almost certainly visibly pregnant. Maybe you wouldn’t need church clearance from the crime of incest if you married your first cousin before you had sex with them (or before it was obvious that you had done so).

By the way, besides the modern North American cultural aversion towards first cousin marriages, it’s probably not actually that genetically risky. Good thing, because all my Texas Czechs are related and interrelated in some way or another! Though, I have not yet come across a first cousin Czech marriage, so maybe I’m wrong to assume I have first cousin marriages, too?

Here are the unanswered questions this record brings up:
  • It seems that this couple had to go through a lot of trouble in order to get permission to be married. How likely is it that the baby was actually born the day after their marriage? Is it more likely that they were hiding the baby so that he or she could be baptized legitimately?
  • Wouldn’t the couple have had a huge incentive to marry much earlier, before the “crime of incest” became visible through her pregnancy? What delayed the marriage?
  • If you could find the banns for this marriage (which might exist in the archives, but are not online), would you find that the marriage was supposed to have taken place much earlier? Wouldn’t this imply that somebody had protested the banns?
  • If so, why? Were they seeking revenge? Were they a jilted lover? Why would somebody care enough to point out their relationship before the pregnancy became visible?
  • Do first cousin marriages between couples engaging in premarital sex always require both a dispensation and a repentance pardon? Is that what this record describes?  

Here is the unfinished transcription which I started with my friend Lukáš. Words which were difficult to read were highlighted in yellow. Feel free to work on it, if you would like! Maybe eventually we can have an exact translation.  

Et Sago
Wenceslaus & Anna

In Septembri
1762 die 5e Mense Septembri contraxit matrimonium per verba de presenti
Wenceslaus ex pago Zablotj oriandus, filus legitimus Laurentis
Wondraschka rustici, ex h. t. judicis, cum sponsa sua Anna ex eodem
pago onunda, filia legitima post defunctum Thomam Novotny
Rusticum Levenissimo Principi de Schwarcyenberg dominio Trebochessi
Leboti, im Ecclesia Parochiali S. Joannis Baptiste Lomnicgicus lusomocy,
suesente Patre Adalberto Chollejch Capell: ex coram testibus
Patio sseryad ex pago Neplachow, Jacobo Maschek ex pago Mayelow,
ex Ursula Kuzelova ex pago Yablatj /: obtenta Dispensatione
in quartio equali consaguimtatis gradu ab ordinario :/

Anno 1762
In Septembri

Premissis omnibus tribus denuntiationbus intra Missanem solemnia
quarem Prima in Festo S. Laurentis M. Altere Domin. 11
tertia Domin. 12e nulloq alio detecto impedimento Canonico,
quo rienis libere cotrahere possent.

Nos Joannes Mauritius Gustavus D Ex Gratia Archi
Episcopus Pragensis, sedis Apostolica Legatus Natus,
S R Imp. Princess Comes de Manderschied = Blankenheim
& Geroldstein, Liber Baro in Junctent,
Dominus in Bettinger, Daun? & Exp: Utriqu? Sacra
Ces. Regiagz Apost. Majestatis Consiliatinus intimus
actualis, secljti? Regie Bohemia Primas, Eccesianem
Metropolitana Coloniensis, ex Cathedralis Argentiners
??ective Kepsositus, servio? ac Thesauremes, Hlastril
Ecclesia Collegiate ad S. Geseorem detra Coloniam positer?
Eresositus, net non Carolo Ferdinandea Universitati
Pragensis perpetuus Cancelliarus, & Protector etc.
Dialectis in Christo Wenceslass Wondrucheska, S Anne Novotnz
Sectie Dieceseos Pregensis, Saluten in Domino.
Humilis pro parte vestra petitio continebat: good lioet 4
equali consanguinitatis gradu conjuncti filis, infiloniunus
darnis fragilitae victi pos incestueose cogrovenitis, modo
vero deg grzssortum? dissersatiomis remedio, quaternis matrimonium
inie? valentius vobis provideri humiliter supplicetis
Nos humilibus precibus inclinati, et fragilitati vestene compatientes,
vos prefatos Oratores de comitto incestu dolentes, secundum
specialem facultatem a sanctissimo D. N. Benedicto
K: K: XIV “ I?du: Secondat. Nobis ad quinquenimum< concessam
tanquam a sede Apostolica delegatus, imprimis ab
Lincestu, ejusq poenis absoloimmus, demode etiam gratis in forma
pauperum et. demmodo mulier propter noc rapta non fuerit,
aut si rapta fuisset in potestate raptoris non existat :/in
domino disspensamus, ut non obtante presento consanquinitatis
impedimento in Quarto equali gradu Matrimonium
de evitamam mulieris infamiam ad formam
SS. concilii Tridentini in facie Ecclesia Cite & valide contrahere,
ac in eo postmodum libere, ac licite semanere prossitis,
prolem /: si qua sit :/ sussestam, vel Cesyisiedet??? legitientium
declarantes, et pro Salutari poenitentia obcommissum
incestum vobis peregimationem ad vicinum miraculosum,
aut grotiosum locum instituendam, ibidemi?
sacramentalem Confessionem cum Comunione Sacra sseragemam,
nec non ser quinque dies Veneris, cum jejunio in
pane et aqua, quimuites Pater et Ave Flep?? geritus in Non
?? sassionis Christi Pevote recitaum a injugentes.
?ragie in Cancellaria Sectie Crisqusali? die 20e August
Anno 1762


1 thought on “The mystery of the page+ long marriage entry: 4th degree consanguinity and Incest

  • I think that the dispensation was quickly granted because of the pregnancy, not in spite of it. I think the most acceptable solution in their culture to a premarital pregnancy was for the parents to get married. The"incest"makes this somewhat awkward, but assuming these are good priests who want to help I can definitely see them pushing for it. I imagine this type of situation is precisely what these dispensation exceptions were designed for.

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