Civil unions between male couples existed around 600 years ago in medieval Europe, a historian now says.
Historical evidence, including legal documents and gravesites, can be interpreted as supporting the prevalence of homosexual relationships hundreds of years ago, said Allan Tulchin of Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania.
If accurate, the results indicate socially sanctioned same-sex unions are nothing new, nor were they taboo in the past.
Western family structures have been much more varied than many people today seem to realize," Tulchin writes in the September issue of the Journal of Modern History. "And Western legal systems have in the past made provisions for a variety of household structures."
For example, he found legal contracts from late medieval France that referred to the term "affr�rement," roughly translated as brotherment. Similar contracts existed elsewhere in Mediterranean Europe, Tulchin said.