'A History of Matrimonial Institutions' is a book based on the author's belief that a thorough understanding of the social evolution of any people must rest upon the broader experience of mankind and that the human family, in particular, with all that the word connotes, is commanding greater attention. Accordingly, in the first part the attempt is made to present a comprehensive and systematic analysis of the literature and the theories of primitive matrimonial institutions, while the second and the third part feature the history of matrimonial institutions in England and in the United States. Volume 1: Analysis of the Literature and the Theories of Primitive Matrimonial Institutions: The Patriarchal Theory Theory of the Horde and Mother-Right Theory of the Original Pairing or Monogamous Family Rise of the Marriage Contract Early History of Divorce Matrimonial Institutions in England: Old English Wife-Purchase Yields to Free Marriage Rise of Ecclesiastical Marriage: The Church Accepts the Lay Contract and Ceremonial Rise of Ecclesiastical Marriage: The Church Develops and Administers Matrimonial Law The Protestant Conception of Marriage Rise of Civil Marriage Volume 2: History of Separation and Divorce under English and Ecclesiastical Law: The Early Christian Doctrine and the Theory of the Canon Law The Protestant Doctrine of Divorce Law and Theory during Three Centuries Matrimonial Institutions in the United States: Obligatory Civil Marriage in the New England Colonies Ecclesiastical Rites and the Rise of Civil Marriage in the Southern Colonies Optional Civil or Ecclesiastical Marriage in the Middle Colonies Divorce in the American Colonies A Century and a Quarter of Marriage Legislation in the United States, 1776-1903 Volume 3: A Century and a Quarter of Divorce Legislation in the United States: The New England States The Southern and Southwestern States The Middle and the Western States Problems of Marriage and the Family: The Function of Legislation The Function of Education...
George Elliott Howard (1849-1928) was an American educator and author, born in New York. He graduated from the University of Nebraska in 1876, studied in Europe at the universities of Munich and Paris (1876-1878), and was professor of history in the University of Nebraska from 1879 to 1891, and professor at Stanford from 1891 to 1901. Professor Howard lectured at Cornell University (1902) and at the University of Chicago (1903-1904), and then returned to the University of Nebraska.
III. THE THEORY IN THE LIGHT OF RECENT RESEARCH Table of Contents
Let us now see somewhat more in detail what light is thrown by recent investigation on the controversy between Maine and McLennan. Westermarck has taken great pains to enumerate the uncivilized peoples, chiefly non-Aryan, among whom descent and usually inheritance follow the paternal side; and he finds that the number is "scarcely less" than the number of those among whom the female line is exclusively recognized. But in many of these cases it seems probable that the parental rather than the agnatic system prevails, though the male line may take precedence. In some instances rank or authority descends from father to son, while in other respects the female line predominates. Doubtless more frequently than is usually imagined a mixed system rather than a strictly paternal or a strictly maternal system would be found to exist. As the result of his inquiry, Westermarck rejects the hypothesis that kinship through the mother is a primitive and universal stage, though he does not substitute the agnatic theory in its place. Starcke, on the other hand, after an extended examination of the customs of rude races, especially in America and Australia, suggests that the paternal as a general rule probably preceded the maternal system which arose only with the development of the gentile organization. But Starcke's evidence can scarcely be accepted as convincing.
Similar difficulties are presented by the question of the prevalence of the so-called patriarchal power among non-Aryan races. Many apparent examples of despotic authority can be enumerated; but it is often hard to determine whether, as in the cases of the Arabs and Hebrews, we have to do merely with a high degree of power on the part of the house-father or with a genuine patria potestas of the Roman type. Naturally, as Westermarck suggests, the father's authority among savages "depends exclusively, or chiefly, upon his superior strength;" while anything like a patriarchal "system" can only arise later under the influence of ancestor-worship and more developed social and industrial conditions. Where authority depends solely or mainly upon brute force, it is evident that a very protracted patriarchal despotism over the sons is hard to conceive. Moreover, much error has doubtless arisen through falsely assuming that paternal authority and mother-right are incompatible; whereas they may well coexist, as will presently appear.
For the Indo-Germanic or Aryan peoples the investigations of Zimmer, Schrader, Delbrück, Kohler, and especially the researches of Leist, enable us to speak with a higher degree of confidence, though only for the period covered by positive linguistic and legal evidence. Bachofen, McLennan, and after them many other writers, as will later be shown, have maintained that among all branches of the Aryan stock conclusive proofs exist of a former matriarchate, or, at any rate, of exclusive succession in the female line. But this view is decidedly rejected, if not entirely overthrown, by the philologists, and depends for its support on the presence in later institutions of alleged survivals. The judgment of Delbrück must probably be accepted as decisive for the present state of linguistic, if not of all scientific, inquiry. He declares that "no sure traces of a former maternal family among the Indo-Germanic peoples have been produced." Similar conclusions are reached by Schrader, Max Müller, and Leist. Also, among the institutional writers, Wake declares that "primitively among the peoples belonging to the wide-spread Aryan or Indo-European stock, while relationship was acknowledged through both parents, descent was traced preferably in the male line;" and Bernhöft, constrained through the evidence presented by Schrader and Delbrück, believes that it is now placed "beyond question that the primitive Aryans did not live according to mother-right," but were united in family groups resembling the south Slavonian house communities. On the other hand, Dargun, the foremost defender of the theory of mother-right, thinks that Bernhöft has "capitulated" too easily. In his last monograph, entitled Mutterrecht und Vaterrecht, he maintains essentially the conclusion of his Mutterrecht und Raubehe, that before their separation the Aryan people had developed the system of kinship "through the mother as the only or chief basis of blood-relationship" and had "subordinated their entire family law to this principle." But the later treatise contains a very important modification, or perhaps, more justly speaking, extension, of the author's theory. Setting aside as still an open question the general prevalence of promiscuity or sexual communism at the very dawn of distinctively human life, Dargun conceives that, before any system of kinship, maternal or agnatic, became recognized as a principle of customary family law, there must have existed a family, or rather parent-group (Elterngruppe), in which the father was protector and master of the mother and her children. This parent-group is the "hypothetical primordial cell of the family," brought together by sexual requirements and the need of sustenance and protection. It is "structureless, devoid of any firm bond, since it rests neither upon the principle of relationship nor that of legalized power." Its resemblance to the patriarchal family, though misleading, "is not without significance." For it "forms the necessary stage of an evolution which in analogous manner is also passed through by property. Inductively it is still demonstrable that individualism and atomism, not communism, as is usually assumed, are the starting point of evolution." As a general rule, according to Dargun, the structureless parent-group is superseded by the maternal family, whose basis is mother-right, or the exclusive legal recognition of blood-relationship in the female line. Only in rare cases does the patriarchal agnatic family follow immediately upon the primitive group, without prior development of mother-right; and hence, under exceptional conditions hindering the rise of the maternal system, do we find a form of the family in which, from a very early period, the house-father is the source of authority, practical or legalized.
Aside from his theory of evolution, in his principal thesis, which he fairly sustains by powerful argument, Dargun has rendered to science a distinct service. It is, he insists, highly necessary carefully to distinguish between power and relationship. "Mother-right" does not involve "maternal power" or the matriarchate, though sometimes actually united with it; nor does the headship of the house-father as provider, protector, and master imply agnation, the so-called "father-right." There is no contrast between power and relationship. "Mother-right in the sense of exclusive maternal kinship is compatible with a patriarchate just as exclusive." They may, and often do, coexist. It follows that the presence of the maternal system of kinship does not imply the existence of maternal power; just as it does not imply the non-existence of paternal authority. The distinction between power and kinship is justly declared to be an "indispensable key" for the solution of the greatest difficulties arising in this branch of sociological science, the disregard of which has often vitiated or confused the argument even of the foremost investigators. With the aid of his key Dargun examines the linguistic evidence, which he finds favorable to the existence of mother-right among all the Aryan peoples after the separation, though united with a real supremacy of the house-father; and he protests vigorously against the tendency, even on the part of Leist, to confound old Indic with old Aryan law; for the "Indians of the Vedas are in many respects more advanced than the Germans a thousand or the Slavs two thousand years later." Valuable as the criticism of Dargun undoubtedly is, notably his distinction between power and relationship, it can scarcely be admitted that he has done more than reopen the question of the existence at any time of mother-right among the Aryans. His results are negative. He has not shifted the burden of proof; while his argument tends to confirm the view of the philologists that from the primitive stage the Aryan father was head of the household.
But the patriarchal theory, strictly considered, fares little better than the maternal at the hands of recent investigators. Leist, who has been able with wonderful completeness to reconstruct the juridical life of the early household, though largely on the basis of old Indic sources, declares positively that "the Aryan people has not within itself a single element of patriarchalism." This statement, as Bernhöft observes, is perhaps too sweeping, even when tested by the results of Leist's own researches; but the patriarchal family of Sir Henry Maine does not appear. The evolution of juridical conceptions among the old Aryans, according to Leist, presents two general phases. First is the rita stage, or period of fixed, divinely appointed order, of natural law, corresponding to the Greek cosmos or phusis and the Latin ratum or ratio naturalis. In this "natural history" or pantheistic stage there is at first little idea of law as something to be separately contemplated. Under rita is comprehended the unchangeable order observable in the material world as well as...