The law of Islam considerably limited the almost arbitrary power which early Asiatic and Hebrew custom accorded the parent over the lives and conduct of his children, the Mohammedan son being competent to marry on the completion of his fifteenth year, with or without his father's consent; and the Hanafis and Shiahs bestowed the same privilege upon their daughters, although in other schools of Mohammedan hermenéutica the woman was only freed from parental control at marriage.1
During the republic of Greece, and In Rome, under a more enlightened and benign social jurisprudence, the parental power was more restricted than during the Homeric epoch, when the father was all, the child nothing. Diocletian and Maximilian revoked the right of selling freeborn children as slaves; and the father's previous power of dictating marriage for his sons "declined into a conditional veto."1 The daughter, also, was accorded a given degree of freedom in the selection of a husband; and the right of protesting, even refusing, if her father wished to bestow her in marriage upon a man of disreputable character." The influence of Christianity was very plainly felt in Roman and Greek domiciliary legislation; and, spreading to provinces of the former empire, we find Clothaire I by a royal edict, in A. D. 560, prohibiting the compulsion of women to marry against their will.
Paternal authority, while declining in some countries less rapidly than in others, has nevertheless declined, in all, being today practically an ignored quantity in regulating marriage in most civilized communities. But above the power even of the feudal barons, the authority of the parent was supreme; and however exalted in rank, no son ever dared to question it.
Even in France, at the present day, the parent exercises considerable power over the conduct of the child. Neither son nor daughter can quit the paternal residence before coming of age, without permission, except, in the case of the former, for enrolment in the army;'1 and the right of correction during marriage still rests with the father. A son under twenty-five, and a daughter under twenty-one, cannot contract marriage without the parent's consent; and, even beyond those ages, both are still bound to ask permission by "formal notification"—aomnations reapectweuses; although this, if the couple be determined, is a mere formality, and seldom permitted to interfere seriously with ultimate results. Practically the same conditions exist in England, where, apart from the law of primogeniture, traditionary custom and the etiquette of high society, constitute barriers and restrictions, almost as strong as law itself, to regulate matrimony among the aristocracy.1