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CONTUBERNIUM, civ. law. As among the Romans, slaves had no civil state, their marriages, although valid according to natural law, when contr acted with the consent of their masters, and when there was no legal bar to them, yet were without civil effects; they having none except what arose from natural law; a marriage of this kind was called contubernium. It was so called whether both or only one of the parties was a slave. Poth. Contr. de Mariage, part 1, c. 2, Sec. 4. Vicat, ad verb.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
References in periodicals archive ?
In this the slave codes of the South went much further than the Roman civil code, where a type of marriage (contubernium, not connubium) was recognized.").
Sexual relations between free persons and slaves, as well as among slaves themselves, were not recognized as legitimate marriages under Roman law These unions were termed contubernium and lacked any of the legal consequences of Roman marriage (Evans Grubbs, Law and Family 262).
The latter were the seven soldiers from the same contubernium (the smallest unit in the army consisting of eight soldiers) as the suicide victim, since they lived close to each other and shared the same sleeping quarters.
6.6) In this passage, within the conventions of Roman exemplarity that Seneca describes as both enacted and transformed--from Forum to philosophy, from arms (contubernium) to ethics--we find a patent acknowledgment of the fact that exemplary actions require an audience.
Cette communaute composee d'hommes, de femmes, de peres, de meres, de parents, d'enfants, de conjoints (au sens purement factuel, l'union de deux esclaves appelee contubernium ne recevait aucune reconnaissance juridique), de familles merite mieux que le traitement qui leur a ete trop souvent inflige par l'historiographie, laquelle s'interesse surtout aux servi sous l'angle de la productivite economique en les considerant ainsi comme de simples outils humains.
The sun was already high in the morning sky when the first contubernium returned with the hangdog Drusus in tow.
Many letters concern Lipsius's contubernium, the group of students who lived with him (which was increased by two new individuals in September of 1595), and we see clearly how this group remained the source of important contacts that lasted throughout Lipsius's life.