Dispensation from Banns. A Data Source for Historical Demography and Social History

Short paper
By Rosa Congost, Josep Portell, Enric Saguer, Albert Serramontmany, Catriona Dutreuilh


In certain regions of Spain, it was customary among the Catholic population to request a dispensation from banns. A study of this practice since the seventeenth century in Catalonia sheds new light on marriages in the region. This short paper focuses on the archives of the diocese of Girona, with a study of the content, characteristics and continuity of this data source and an assessment of its representativeness. It also examines the motives behind the requests made by most of the population for a dispensation from banns before marriage. Thanks to their serial nature, to the abundant information contained in the supporting documents associated with each request for dispensation, and the opportunities they provide to work at the diocesan level, i.e. over a relatively wide area comprising a large number of parishes, dispensations from banns provide an exceptional data source for historical demography and social history.


  • Spain
  • Catalonia
  • historical demography
  • banns
  • marriage
  • sources
  • social history
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