Przeszłość Demograficzna Polski (Jan 2015)

Demografia rodziny magnackiej w Wielkim Księstwie Litewskim na tle elit zachodnioeuropejskich. Wybrane problemy

  • Marzena Liedke

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 37


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The article presents the results of the research on the age of newlyweds, the length of marriages, the number of children in the family and life expectancy for the magnate family in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in the 16th–18th centuries, and the comparison of those numbers with the parameters established by West-European historical demographers for aristocratic elites from Britain, France, Germany and Portugal and the families that ruled in Europe. The demographic parameters for the magnate family have been obtained from the database that contains information on particular genealogical facts such as the date of birth, marriage and death, and the number of children (collected in library and archival queries for nine families) and they have been compared with the results arrived at by West-European researchers. The results for the magnate family indicate that the average age of men who contract marriage for the first time is included between over 23 to over 27 years; that is also the age range when European aristocrats contracted marriages, but the average age approached the upper limit more frequently. The age at which women from magnate families contracted marriage for the first time also correlates with the data concerning European female aristocrats, that is to say between 18 and 23–24, and approaches the upper limit of the interval. In the case of other parameters the magnate family were of lower value. The length of marriage in magnate families was shorter than in England, the number of children in a family also was smaller, and life expectancy was usually shorter both for men and women. When we compare the data concerning magnate families with the analogous parameters concerning the West-European elites we can see that the magnate families from Lithuania were generally less healthy. The increase of nearly all the demographic parameters in the 18th century in their case was after all inferior to the ones referring to similar social groups in England and France. There is a possibility that difficulties connected with obtaining complete data and – as a result – a less numerous research sample, as well as taking into consideration only the children that had grown to the adult age (in the West-European samples all the children that had been born were counted) have influenced the values of the parameters and made them less reliable. That is why it is a need to continue the research and to concentrate on other problems (which are important from the point of view of functioning of the family), such as the size of definite celibate in the group in question, the percentage of second and third marriages, the problem of illegitimate children, etc.