MARRIAGE AND GEOGRAPHIC MOBILITY IN 16TH-CENTURY SITIA
Based on the unpublished marriage contracts drawn up in Sitia during the 16th century, the study of geographic mobility for marriage purposes reveals the extent of practices of endogamy and exogamy and their impact on the characteristics of Sitia society.
The geographic origin of the contracting couples cannot be regarded as an indispensable element of marriage contracts, just as it could easily be omitted in any other notarial act drawn up in Crete under Venetian rule. Information provided by the notaries could include the birthplace and/or the place of residence, if different, but even the absence of any geographical definition of the contracting couples was not rare. Furthermore, the lack of fiscal and demographic documentation on Sitia under Venetian rule makes it difficult to identify the permanent inhabitants of the town and to distinguish them from the temporary or periodic residents, or even from those living in the town for more generations. Therefore, mainly through successive contracts of the same people or their family, such as the rare marriage contracts of parents and (grand) children, successive generations of permanent residents can be identified.
The evidence provided mainly by marriage contracts and also by other types of notarial act drawn up in Sitia in the 16th century reveals a high percentage of town dwellers among the brides and bridegrooms. In fact, endogamy, being married to a partner of the same geographic origin, was a common characteristic of more than half the marriages contracted in Sitia during the 16th century. On the other hand, the percentage of Sitians married to non-residents, a quarter of all marriages, had a certain impact on the features of the town, as it rendered Sitia quite open to strangers.