Journal of Civil Law Studies


Ana Conde


Until the late fifteenth century, the Iberian Peninsula was characterized by a diversity of matrimonial regimes. However, the Spanish society underwent profound changes after the Reconquista, particularly due to the introduction of religious unification processes and to the new political configuration of the Iberian Peninsula. The Council of Trent promoted the religious ceremony in order to fight illegal unions, so that between 1564 and 1870, only the canonical marriage was recognized in Spain.

Under the First Republic, the civil marriage was established and became mandatory, so as to become the only recognized form of marriage. Then, in 1875, with the restoration of the monarchy, the canonical marriage became mandatory for Spanish Catholics.

Family law was deeply transformed during the Second Republic, which was founded in 1931: new laws were passed on divorce and civil marriage. However, after the victory of Franco's troops in 1939, new legislation was adopted, marking the return to traditionalism and morals advocated by national-Catholicism. The norms imposed by the Franco regime to the family institution brought the Second Republic avant-garde period to an end.

It was not until Franco's death in 1975, followed by a democratic transition and by the new Constitution of 1978 that divorce would be reestablished and that civil marriage would be recognized again, by the law of 7 July 1981.

Throughout the study, which provides a description of the historical evolution of marriage in Spain, the focus will be on the analysis of the relationship between legislation and social policies implemented between 1931 and 1975.

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