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Royal Bastards – The Birth of Illegitimacy, 800-1230 - Oxford Scholarship Online
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Royal Bastards: The Birth of Illegitimacy, 800-1230

Sara McDougall


The stigmatization as “bastards” of children born outside of wedlock is commonly thought to have emerged early in medieval European history. Christian ideas about legitimate marriage, it is assumed, set the standard for legitimate birth. Children born to anything other than marriage had fewer rights or opportunities. They certainly could not become king or queen. As this book demonstrates, however, well into the late twelfth century, ideas of what made a child a legitimate heir had little to do with the validity of his or her parents’ union according to the dictates of Christian marriage law. ... More

Keywords: bastards, illegitimacy, marriage, medieval, lineage, law, succession, Christian

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2016 Print ISBN-13: 9780198785828
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2016 DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198785828.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Sara McDougall, author
Associate Professor, John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the CUNY Graduate Center