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The approach I take is legal-historical: I want to understand these concepts as legal concepts in their historical context. The rest of this introduction provides the context for unequal marriages in European dynasties and in German society.

I then provide and analyze definitions of these concepts (1), and describe their joint history (2).

I then consider in turn separately unequal marriages and mismarriages through examples (3) and then turn to a general discussion (4) and examples (5) of morganatic marriages.

The rules varied in their requirements and in their effects, making contravening marriages either null or else imperfect.

A person's Stand (state) was more than simply his or her station in life, or occupation.

Rather, it indicated to which legally defined class of society he or she belonged: upper nobility, lower nobility, burgher, peasant.

The families derived these rules partly in common, partly independently of each other.

There were enough of these families that something like a common law peculiar to them could develop.

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