Marriages and illegitimate relationships in the army of the Crown of the Polish Kingdom and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries – the law and the practice
Keywords:illegitimate relationships, military law, concubine, army
The article presents the legal regulations on the principles of the presence of women in the Polish-Lithuanian army in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Jan Tarnowski, at the end of the ﬁrst half of the sixteenth century, introduced the ﬁrst signiﬁcant limi- tations on this issue. According to military law the only women that could exist in the army were the wives of soldiers and persons accompanying the troops (e.g. merchants, servants and the like). The soldiers were not satisﬁed with this arrangement and began to exploit loopholes for their own purposes. Firstly, marriages were concluded to make prostitution possible. Secondly, in many cases, soldiers declared a concubine or sexual slave to be their lawful wife. During the latter half of the sixteenth century and ﬁrst half of the seventeenth century, lawmakers endeavoured to reﬁne the rules. As a result (despite the diﬃculties involved and with the help of military law) during that period the Polish-Lithuanian army had only a small percentage of women present, especially when compared to Western armies. During periods of war there was a signiﬁcant de- parture from the legal rules. Then the soldiers treated captured women as spoils of war. Some of the women became “military wives”, others were simply used as sex slaves.