According to Lawrence Stone (in The Family, Sex and Marriage, 1500-1800), pre-Christian Anglo-Saxon society appears to have been quite casual about marriage, with polygamy and concubinage quite frequent, and where the lower orders were concerned these attitudes appear to have lasted well into the Early Modern period, formal or church marriage being largely a matter for the wealthy and a means of ensuring lines of descent for wealth. For the rest, oral spousal and divorce by consent appear to have been normal. Through the Anglo-Saxon period, and particularly after the Norman conquest, the Church struggled to establish monogamous, indissoluble marriage as the norm, with consequent prohibitions on adultery, fornication and incest. </…
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Batchelor, Jennie. "Marriage Act". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 02 April 2004
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/stopics.php?rec=true&UID=689, accessed 25 May 2017.]