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The celebration of marriages without the cognizance of proper authority. Attempts to deal with the abuse, which was widespread in the Middle Ages, were made by both Catholics and Protestants in the 16th cent. The Reformers generally held that marriages without parental consent were null and void. RC canonists were ambivalent until the Council of Trent in 1563 ruled that, though clandestine marriages were proper marriages, in future such marriages would be held to be null; all marriages were to be made before the parish priest (or another priest) and two other witnesses. In the C of E publicity is secured by the publication of banns, the issue of a marriage licence or the certification of a superintendent registrar, and the requirement of witnesses to the ceremony. Clandestinity is, however, commonly held not to void a marriage.

Subjects: Christianity.

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