1 Mar /17


Divorce – Word of the day - EVS Translations
Divorce – Word of the day – EVS Translations

Unlike marriage, divorce is rarely regarded as an occasion to celebrate. As usually it is accompanied by emotions on the darker side of the spectrum; be it anger, sadness, anxiety, or in the best case – the feeling of relief as we close one chapter to open a new one. On the other hand, ‘a little party never killed nobody’ and perhaps that is what the owners of a specially designed event planning for divorce parties thought. Established in the USA, divorce parties are becoming popular now over the Globe with the main idea to help out people cope with the difficult transition.

Historically speaking, divorce was allowed in both Ancient Greece and the Roman Empire up to the Medieval 9th century, when the Church took over and hailed marriage a sacred institution by God and indissoluble by human action. By the 10th century, divorce was generally prohibited, but there existed the form of ‘legal separation’ that was determined by the Church, as civil courts did not have real power over marriage and separation.

As a term, divorce exists in the English language since the late 14th century. Borrowed as a loanword from Old French, and stemming from the Latin divertere (earlier divortere), which means ‘to separate, leave one’s husband, turn aside.’  The word was first recorded in 1377, in Piers Plowman by William Langland, which is considered one of the greatest works of the Medieval English literature along with Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.

One of the first and most significant for political history royal divorces was the one of Louis VII of France and Eleanor of Aquitaine in the 1150s. While the first royal divorces recorded in English print is the one of Louis XII, who accessing the throne in 1498 directly began marriage annulment proceedings by petitioning the pope for a bull. The divorce was recorded in the Chronicle of England: “In the same year was made a divorce between the king of France and the queen his wife”.

And 1533 saw the Great Divorce to start the Reformation and change the history. When the Pope refused to annual the marriage of Henry VIII to Catherine of Aragon, the king of England and Wales broke away from the Roman Catholic Church by naming himself the Supreme Head of the Church of England, divorcing Catherine to marry Anne Boleyn.

Until 1857, divorce in England had to be granted by an Act of Parliament, and as that was hugely expensive, only rich men were actually divorcing.

The Matrimonial Causes Act changed everything, allowing ordinary people to divorce and giving women the right to apply for divorce proving husbands’ cruelty on top of unfaithfulness.

A 1937 change added drunkenness, insanity and desertion as grounds for divorce, the Divorce Reform Act of 1969 allowed couples to divorce after they had been separated for two years,  and the late 1990s finally saw divorces favouring women.

Since then statistics point out that the divorce rate among baby boomers has increased to over 50%. More and more seniors choose to stay single and especially more and more financially independent women choose to stay unmarried. Naturally, the tendency has reflected on the society’s perception of marriage and divorce, putting less pressure on people to get or stay married.