When it comes to divorce history, the average person can muster up about three talking points: that whole Protestant church reformation thing, Elizabeth Taylor, and that time Uncle Rob left Aunt Debra, started dating your French teacher and Thanksgiving got très weird.
While those are some biggies, there’s a whole rich tapestry of divorce history out there. Turns out as long as people have been getting hitched, they’ve been getting unhitched. Let’s take a gander.
500 BCE – When not busy inventing democracy and partying, ancient Greeks were getting divorced left and right. Their motto was “matrimonia debent esse libera” which loosely translates to, if you want to date Todd go ahead I’m not stopping you. The ancient Greeks saw marriage as a practice to enter into freely and exit just as freely.
331 CE – Constantine got all religious right wing on the good people of the Roman Empire. Under his Christian rule, disgruntled couples needed a serious reason to divorce. Such grounds included proving your husband was a murderer, poisoner or tomb disturber. I dated a tomb disturber once. It was not awesome.
1000 CE – Christianity spread like wildfire through Europe, and with it came a very conservative stance on divorce. It wasn’t allowed at all but there were some workarounds. If for instance you had really had it with your husband and his inability to throw his codpieces in the hamper, notbeside it, you could ask the church for an annulment. They were hard to get and could only be granted if the couple entered into the marriage “improperly” but I guess you had to try what you could to get away from that nightmare and his terrible lute playing.