from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Friedelehe , also known as Friedelschaft (from Middle High German friudiea "beloved"), is the name for a form of marriage from the early Middle Ages that was introduced to historical research by the German legal historian Herbert Meyer in the 1920s, but whose actual existence is controversial today. Peace marriages are said to have been characterized by the voluntary nature of both spouses, a lack of transfer of guardianship over the wife and absent relationships between the two families.

Confirmed forms of marriage in the early Middle Ages are the Muntehe , the Kebsehe, and the robbery or kidnapping marriage .

Friedelehe after Meyer

According to Herbert Meyer, defining characteristics of Friedelehe are:

  • Friedel marriage was usually concluded between people from different classes, the wife almost always came from a lower class.
  • Marriage was based on an agreement of will between a man and a woman; so both wanted to get married.
  • A peace marriage came about solely through the public repatriation of the bride and the wedding night; the bride also received a morning gift .
  • In contrast to Muntehe, the husband was not given guardianship (munt) over the wife by the bride's father ; often there were no relationships with the bride's family.
  • The woman, like the man, had a right to seek a divorce.
  • The children from a peace marriage were not under the control of the father, only the mother.
  • Children from a peace marriage were initially fully entitled to inheritance; however, the increasing influence of the church weakened its position.
  • Peaceful marriages made polygyny possible (polygamy).
  • Muntehe and Friedelschaft could coexist (especially in the aristocracy ), which was later regarded as polygamy .
  • A peace marriage could be converted into a muntie if the husband subsequently provided the bride's treasure.

The Friedelehe had been declared illegitimate by the Catholic Church in the 9th century. Nevertheless, remnants of this form of marriage have remained in the form of morganatic marriage ("marriage to the left hand") into modern times .

Criticism of Meyer's definition

More recent research, for example by Else Ebel , Karl Heidecker and Andrea Esmyol, reinforce the evidence that the "Friedelehe" could only be a research construct that arose from an incorrect interpretation of the source by Herbert Meyer . Andrea Esmyol, in particular, refuted her lover or wife? Concubines in the early Middle Ages the basic assumptions of Meyer's definition. Above all, the following points of criticism arise:

  • After checking the Old Norse sources used by Meyer, Else Ebel cannot confirm his conclusions; in particular, she criticizes passages in text that have been taken out of context and whose meaning has been alienated.
  • The text documents used by Meyer refer loud Esmyol all either Muntehen or concubinage , but allow no conclusion about the existence of a "Friedel marriage" as a freer form of marriage.
  • The sources used by Meyer often come from times when, even in his own opinion, the “Friedelehe” no longer existed.

The fact that Meyer's theory was nevertheless able to hold up in research for decades is due to its special field of origin: On the one hand, the period of the 19th and early 20th centuries characterizes the search for historical models for a more free choice of partners, and on the other, the time of the National Socialist regime for not questioning Meyer's theory any further - it corresponded too well to the National Socialist ideology that emphasized its Germanic heritage.


  • Else Ebel: The cohabitation according to old-west Norse sources. Philological studies on the so-called "Friedelehe". In: Supplementary volumes to the Reallexikon der Germanischen Altertumskunde. Volume 8, Gruyter, Berlin 1993, ISBN 3-11-013925-1 .
  • Andrea Esmyol: lover or wife? Concubines in the early Middle Ages. Böhlau, Cologne 2002, ISBN 3-412-11901-6 ( review by Martina Hartmann ).
  • Heiner Lück : About the Sachsenspiegel. Stekovics, Dössel 2005, ISBN 978-3-89923-093-2 , pp. 53-56.
  • Herbert Meyer : Friedel marriage and mother right. Böhlau, Weimar 1927 (the central work on "Friedelehe").
  • Paul Mikat : Endowed marriage - right marriage. On the development of marriage law in Franconian times. Fränkischer, Opladen 1978.
  • Will-Erich Peuckert : marriage. Women time. Man time. Saeterehe. Court marriage. Free marriage. Classen, Hamburg 1955, without ISBN.

Individual evidence

  1. ^ A b Thomas Olechowski : Legal history. Introduction to the historical foundations of law. 3rd, revised and expanded edition. Facultas, Vienna 2010, ISBN 3-7089-0631-4 , p. 305, no. 3205: B. Marriage law between state and church ( side view in the Google book search).
  2. Maike Vogt-Lüerssen : Everyday history of the Middle Ages: The Friedelehe. In: Everyday history of the Middle Ages. Own website, 2016, accessed on September 19, 2016 .
  3. ^ Table of contents by Will-Erich Peuckert: Ehe. Women's time - men's time ... (1955, 431 pages): LOVE AND MARRIAGE: Quod est? · Two · The from each other - WEIBERZEIT: The Mediterranean world · The great mother · Woman giving birth · The snake goddess · Incomprehensible world · Time of change - MEN'S TIME: Cattle farmers and heroes · Mouths · Teeth and arguments - SAETEREHE: Huldrenliebe · The camp in the hay · Woman and concubine · Yngvild Wangenschön and Gudrun - DIE HOFEHE: I am a farmer · Advertising and marriage · Richard Hallmann · The rehearsal nights · Kosmas and Damian · The night free season · The mother - FREE MARRIAGE: The peace or free marriage · Maibuhlschaften · The consense marriage .