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date: 08 December 2023

betrothal, Roman sponsalialocked

betrothal, Roman sponsalialocked

  • Gordon Willis Williams
  •  and Antony Spawforth


In the republic consisted of reciprocal sponsiones, and breach-of-promise actions (in the form of actions for damages) existed. The movement of classical Roman law was in the direction of removing constraint, and the term sponsalia came near to an informal agreement to marry, voidable at will (except that the intending husband was required to return such dowry as had been given to him and the intending bride was expected to return the much more usual gift from her intending husband, the donatio ante nuptias, for gifts after marriage were excluded). The betrothal was solemnized with a kiss and the intending husband put an iron *ring (anulus pronubus) on the third finger of his partner's left hand; it was the occasion for a party (also called sponsalia).

See also marriage law, Greek and Roman.


  • Gender Studies
  • Roman Law

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