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Before the early 1800’s, part of the marital process in Sweden was the Morgongåva. This custom dates back to medieval German marital traditions where the man provided a gift to the woman as part of the marriage agreement. [1]The size and amount of the Morgongåva were agreed upon at the time of the engagement. The gift was not paid in cash, but was a cash value associated to their estate. The right to the morgongåva became effective on the morning after the wedding night, hence the name Morgongåva (morgon = morning, gåva = gift.)

The gift was essentially a dowry and compensation for the bride’s commitment to the marriage and household improvement. [2]The wife would receive the morgongåva after the death of her husband. In this light, the morgongåva can be seen as a type of life insurance policy. According to the old Landsrätt the morgongåva could be inherited to the womans heirs, or at least to her surviving children should she die before her husband. According to the old Stadsrätt the morgongåva was conditional upon the woman bearing children to the marriage.

The legal reform of 1734 (often called 1734 Års lag) established the conditions of the morgongåva kingdom wide. After this, if the woman died before the man, the morgongåva was nullified. If the man died first (according to Landsrätt) the widow had right to the morgongåva regardless of bearing children or not. If the widow was under Stadsrätt, and had giftorätt, then she would not have claim on the morgongåva when there were children from the marriage. [3]The 1734 Års lag also had limits to the size of the morgångåva. The widow could not claim more than one third of the stationary residence or land. Nor could she have more than one tenth of the loose property as part of the morgongåva. This protected the inheritance of the deceased man's children. Although the morgongåva had upper limits, there was no lower amount set by law. After a widow had received it, she was obligated to manage her property responsibly. If the widow remarried her property was combined with her new husband's. When the widow died (and having not remarried) her property was passed on to her heirs or children. The practice of creating a morgongåva was in decline by the end of the 1700’s although you might find examples well into the 1800’s.

Tips

  • You often see the amount of the Morgongåva written in the engagement and marriage records before the early 1800's. For example, 250 lod silver.

Notes

  1. In German called “morgengabe”, Nordisk Familjebok, Uggleupplagan page 1105
  2. ”Ett vederlag för kvinnans hemgift och arbete för boets förkofran”, Nordisk Familjebok, Uggleupplagan page 1105
  3. ” Lefver hufstrun efter honom; niute efter landsrätt morgongåfvo sin, ehvad the hafva barn fammen, eller ej. Äger huftrun giftorätt efter ftadsrätt; tage ej morgongåvo, ther hon barn efter honom hafver”, Sveriges Rikes Lag År 1734, Giftermåls Balk page 10

References

Clemensson, Per and Andersson, Kjell. Släktforska steg för steg. Falköping, Natur och Kultur/Fakta, 2005

Gernandt, C.E., Nordisk Familjebok, Halmstad 1904 – 1926
provided by Projekt Runeberg at Projekt Runeberg: Nordisk Familjebok

Rätthistoriskt Bibliotek, Sveriges Rikes Lag Gillad och Antagen på Riksdagen År 1734, Bloms Boktryckeri AB, Lund 1984


 

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