General Aztecs Maya Tocuaro Kids Contact 24 Mar 2019/13 Lizard
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Could you get divorced?

ORIGINAL QUESTION received from - and thanks to - Hana Zaka, Redbourn Junior School, St. Alban’s: Hi! You came to my school recently but what happens if you got married, but you didn’t like who got married to? Would you just divorce them or did divorce not exist then? (Answered by Ian Mursell/Mexicolore)

‘Arranging a marriage’ - Florentine Codex, Book VI
‘Arranging a marriage’ - Florentine Codex, Book VI (Click on image to enlarge)

What a great question! Well yes, you may be surprised to learn that you COULD get divorced in Aztec times. Of course it certainly wasn’t encouraged and every effort was made - in the first instance by judges who listened to the arguments on both sides in special rooms set aside for the purpose - to keep the unhappy couple together, as everyone was aware that the whole community would be affected.
IF things were beyond the pale, either side could petition (ask) for divorce, and special courts worked hard to come to an even-handed solution:-
’A division of their wealth was made in accordance to what each had contributed. And each was given his freedom. He was given the male children, and she the girls, together with all the womanly things of the house. She was given license to marry again, and so was he’. (Fray Diego Durán, Book of the Gods).

Interestingly, the blame for any separation was generally placed on the husband! Officially permission for the divorce had to be obtained from his side of the community - so inevitably he ‘had to bear the brunt of the communal backlash against their failure.’

Quote and info from: Bonds of Blood by Caroline Dodds Pennock (on our Panel of Experts), Palgrave Macmillian, 2008, pp 133-136.
Image from the Florentine Codex (original in the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, Florence) scanned from our own copy of the Club Internacional del Libro 3-volume facsimile edition, Madrid, 1994.

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Here's what others have said:

Mexicolore replies: Keep cool, open a can of beans. ‘All’s well that ends well...’!
Mexicolore replies: Great! That’s what we’re here for...