Annus luctus

Annus luctus

Literal Meaning

The year of mourning.

Explanation & Origin

The year of mourning. It was a rule among the Romans, and also the Danes and Saxons, that widows should not marry infra annus luctus, (within the year of mourning).

Annus luctus, the year of mourning, during which the widow, by the ordinances of the Civil Law, could not marry, to prevent the inconvenience of a widow bearing a child which, by the period of gestation, might be the child either of her deceased or her present husband.

According to Brewer , the period during which a widow is morally supposed to remain chaste. If she marries within about nine months from the death of her late husband and a child is born, a doubt might arise as to the paternity of the child. Such a marriage is not illegal, but it is inexpedient.


If A is widow of B. Within 5 months of death of B , A marries C. Such marriage is annus luctus and the marriage is said to be inexpedient.

Case Reference

Moss V. Moss [(1897) P.263]

In this case it was said that : The uncorroborated evidence of a married woman is not permitted to bastardize her own child.] To prevent difficult questions as to paternity, the Dutch Law, following the Civil Law,  prohibited remarriage within a certain time after a first husband’s death. This was called the widow’s ‘annus luctus’

Edited by Vigneshwar Ramasubramania

Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje