Dávid Rozsnyai’s “Orphans”: A Stepfamily through Divorce in Seventeenth-Century Transylvania1
Research Institute of the Transylvanian Museum Society
My paper examines the documents pertaining to the life of a stepfamily made through divorce in seventeenth-century Transylvania. The focus is on the interfamilial relationships before and after the divorce. I examine the ways in which the attitude of the father, Dávid Rozsnyai, toward his first wife and children changed during the divorce and after formation of a new family. I also consider how the appearance of the new family members (second wife, half-siblings) affected the equilibrium within the family. My analysis shows that in Early Modern Transylvania there were social and personal customs involving the assignment of social positions to both adult and child members of a family broken by divorce, which facilitated the integration of these families into the community. The scattered family documents and witness hearings show that the divorced father ensured, through his testament and other documents, that the two sons from the two different marriages would share inherited wealth equally. In their turn, the stepbrothers worked together to pay off their father’s debts.
Keywords: stepfamily, divorce, Transylvania, children, remarriage, inheritance, stepsiblings, half-siblings, orphans