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A contract mutually entered into by a man and a woman capable of contracting matrimony, that they will marry each other. When one of the contracting parties violates his or her promise to the other, the latter may support an action against the former for damages, which are sometimes very liberally given. To entitle the plaintiff to recover damages, however, the defendant must not have been incapable of making the contract at, the time, and such incapacity must not have been known to the opposite party; as, if a married man were to promise to marry a woman, and he afterwards refused to do so.
The canon law punished these breaches of promises by ecclesiastical censures.
According to the ancient jurisprudence of France, damage's could have been recovered for the in execution of this engagement, and cases are reported which show a considerable liberality on this subject. M. Maynon, counsellor in the parliament of Paris, was condemned to sixty thousand livres damages; and a M. Hebert to fourteen thousand livres. By the modern law of France, damages may be recovered for the violation of this contract.
In Germany and Holland damages may also be recovered. And the Prussian code regulates the amount of damages to be paid under a variety of circumstances.