Concubinage

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Concubinage

 

in Roman law, the cohabitation of a man and woman with intent to enter into matrimony, distinguished from formal marriage and regulated by law.

As a legal institution, concubinage arose under a law enacted in 18 B.C. establishing severe punishment for adultery. The law absolved from punishment only those men cohabiting with women whom they intended to marry but could not because of legal prohibitions. For example, marriages between men of senatorial rank and freedwomen were forbidden by law. Children born in concubinage had limited rights of inheritance and could be legitimized, unlike other children born out of wedlock, who were completely deprived of property rights.