French Renaissance Paleography


Charbonnière-les-Vieilles,[1] 5 November 1571 (copy ca. 1595)
Contrat du mariage d’Annet d’Anglars et d’Anne de Rochegude
Chicago, Newberry Library, VAULT Case MS 5027


Marriage, in medieval and Ancien Régime France, was serious business. Before a man and woman married, they would have a notary draw up a marriage contract, not only to set the details of the dowry, but also to protect the rights of the bride and determine her share of her family’s patrimony. As such, the marriage contract was an act of succession.

The marriage contract was usually drawn up at the bride’s residence, in the presence of members of both families, who would sign the official legal document, or minute. In the following days or weeks, the signatories would receive a copy of the marriage contract, signed only by the notary, called expédition. While the minute was the official document, kept by the notary, the expédition was usually preserved by families with other important papers, and could be used in litigations. As the expédition represented the essence of the marriage contract, it was generally a solemn document, often written on a large piece of parchment, a noble and expensive material, in a beautiful and ornate handwriting.

The document reproduced here is not an expédition, but simply a copy of the marriage contract, made about twenty-five years after the signing of the minute. Before he got married, Annet d’Anglars gave land to his mother Avoise the Tabou in the contract presented here.

When Anne de Rochegude married Annet d’Anglars, she brought to her new family the seigneurie of Rochegude, so Anne and Annet’s children adopted the name Anglars de Rochegude. Their great-grand-daughter Anne married Philibert de Lauzanne in 1676, at which point the seigneurie became part of the Lauzanne apanage. Philibert de Lauzanne, sixth son of Pierre de Lauzanne and Louise d’Haultefaye, is the patriarch of an important branch of the Lauzanne family, which allied, among others, with the Soubrany de Bénistant and the Frétat de Chirac. This marriage contract was likely included in the Lauzanne Family Papers _because of its connection to the _seigneurie de Rochegude. For an overview of the collection, see the Lauzanne Family Papers.

For examples of expéditions of marriage contracts from the Lauzanne Family Papers, see Expédition du contrat du mariage de Jean de Jardon et de Françoise de Rochefort, __Epédition du contrat de mariage de Guillaume Lobeyrie et d’Anthonie Anglade_,_ and Expédition du contrat du mariage de Catherine Lobeyrie et Jean Favy.