(also forismaritagium), an obligation imposed by feudal law in Western and Central European medieval states, limiting the freedom of feudally dependent peasants to marry. In the early Middle Ages, formariage applied mainly to serfs, who were thus required to obtain their seignior’s permission before marrying. By the mid-12th century, it was binding upon all dependent people on a seigniory, but it was applicable only in cases in which a dependent person wanted to marry a person outside the seignior’s jurisdiction or a person of higher social status; in such cases, a certain sum of money was levied in exchange for the seignior’s permission to marry. The purpose of formariage was to prevent or compensate the seignior’s loss of rights over the progeny of the people dependent on him.
Beginning in the late 12th and early 13th centuries, during the process of peasant liberation, a considerable number of peasants, as well as townspeople who had freed themselves from the power of the seigniors, succeeded in gradually freeing themselves from formariage. The obligation was retained only insofar as it applied to serfs. It thus came to be one of the symbols of serfdom. In the 14th to 15th centuries, formariage disappeared in most Western European states, surviving in only a few regions.
IU. L. BESSMERTNYI