Introduced by Maximinus II?
From Lactantius: "Eunuchs and panders made search everywhere, and no sooner was any comely face discovered, than husbands and parents were obliged to withdraw. Matrons of quality and virgins were stripped of their robes, and all their limbs were inspected, lest any part should be unworthy of the bed of the emperor. Whenever a woman resisted, death by drowning was inflicted on her; as if, under the reign of this adulterer, chastity had been treason. Some men there were, who, beholding the violation of wives whom for virtue and fidelity they affectionately loved, could not endure their anguish of mind, and so killed themselves. While this monster ruled, it was singular deformity alone which could shield the honour of any female from his savage desires. At length he introduced a custom prohibiting marriage unless with the imperial permission; and he made this an instrument to serve the purposes of his lewdness."
I haven't come up with good search terms to track down secondary sources, and this may be the sort of inference from a primary source I shouldn't make here. Nonetheless it sounds to me as if the foundation of the institution in Roman law, the presumptive precedent for so many others, indicates the purpose of the marriage license as for droit de seigneur. Wnt (talk) 16:23, 13 August 2010 (UTC)
The citations are of intolerably poor quality. The Coontz NYT reference is an opinion piece, not a fact-checked article which is subject to corrections of fact by the publisher. The reference to the eugenics journal does not appear to support the statement to which it is attached. The result is distinctly POV, making this appear to be a political propaganda piece. I move that either better references replace these, or the statements they support should be removed. Aminorex (talk) 12:51, 23 June 2011 (UTC)
- Not only is the Coontz NYT reference not fact checked, but the claims based on it are manifestly false. The early marriage license was a defense against charges of bigamy, or demonstration of a special dispensation to marry. They were liberalizations of marriage, not restrictions upon it. "Marriage licenses from their inception have sought to establish certain prohibitions on the institution of marriage.".....! If you look at the timings of the various marriage licensing statutes, you'll see that ten states never passed them (licenses are not required today in Alabama or Texas, for instance, and were not required in Georgia until the 1990s), many states passed their marriage licensing laws long before they passed anti-miscegenation laws (much of New England), some repealed their anti-miscegenation laws before passing marriage licensing laws (Pennsylvania, for instance, passed its marriage licensing law 225 years after repealing its race law, while Florida passed its marriage licensing law the year after its race law was invalidated (1968 and 1967, respectively).) Few marriage licensing laws are passed during the period when anti-miscegenation laws are at their peak. The Coontz article contains no specific support for its claims, and there is considerable counter-evidence. As such, I am deleting the claims as inadequately sourced.--Jamesofengland (talk) 08:34, 5 August 2012 (UTC)
Inaccurate concerning legal marriages in the UK
Since the Marriage Act of 1836 Roman Catholic and Nonconformist Ministers can register marriages so it is plain wrong to say that people can only be married legally in Angican churches and otherwise they have to respect the rules of civil marriages. PhilomenaO'M (talk) 11:17, 27 July 2012 (UTC)