morghongæf (OSw) morghon gieff (OSw) morghon giæf (OSw) morghongava (OSw) noun

Literally, ‘morning gift’. This was the gift that the groom gave to his wife on the morning after their marriage. Carlsson maintains that this was to be interpreted as the price for her virginity (pretium virginitatis), following early Germanic law. Later writers, however, Kopiola and Ekholst, point out that there is no direct indication of this interpretation in the Swedish medieval laws, even if its origin might have been such. Ekholst believes that it was merely a culmination of the preceding acts in the marriage process. The giving of the morghongæf might thus simply be confirmation that the marriage was valid and indissoluble. The importance of consummation to a marriage was that, if it had not been consummated, it could be dissolved leaving both parties free to marry again. This was the only way in which a marriage could be ended under the Catholic Church, unless it was incestuous or entered into under duress. Although widows sometimes did not receive a morghongæf, or the equivalent, if they married a second time, this was not always the case. The equivalent gift is called the hindradagsgæf (‘following day gift’) in HL, UL, ÄVgL and ÖgL. This gift, which could be in land or movables, was the bride’s to keep, unlike the dowry (hemfylghþ) that came with the bride as an advance on inheritance and had to be returned to her family estate if she were widowed. It was thus clearly intended to support her if she became widowed, especially as the gift returned to the husband’s estate should she die before him. It could, however, be forfeited if she committed adultery. A completely different system applied in GL and no mention is made of any gift to his wife by a man while he lives, but only of what she is to receive on and after his death, which included everything that she took to the farm at her marriage, as well as the hogsl ok iþ (see hogsl). This implies that in this case her dowry was not returnable. The morghongæf does not figure in Nordic countries apart from Sweden.

bride price OSw UL Äb
OSw VmL Äb

morning gift OSw BjR
OSw KrL Kgb Gb
OSw MEL Kgb Gb
OSw MESt Gb Äb
OSw SdmL Gb
OSw YVgL Gb, Add

wedding gift OSw HL Äb Refs:

Carlsson 1965; Ekholst 2009; Holmbäck 1919; KLNM s.v. morgongåva; Korpiola 2004; Lexikon des Mittelalters s.v. ehe; SAOB s.v. morgongåva; Schlyter 1877, s.v.v. bröllop, hindradags gæf; husfru, morghongæf, vängåva, ægteskab; SL UL, 82 note 21; SL VmL, 58 note 24; Vogt, Helle 2010

  • ‘morghongæf’. A Lexicon of Medieval Nordic Law.