Active discussions
WikiProject Guild of Copy Editors
A version of this article was copy edited by Dthomsen8, a member of the Guild of Copy Editors, on 1 May 2014. The Guild welcomes all editors with a good grasp of English and Wikipedia's policies and guidelines to help in the drive to improve articles. Visit our project page if you're interested in joining! If you have questions, please direct them to our talk page.

Concubine HousingEdit

I've seen this before... What's the word/term for the place where concubines are housed? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:00, 8 June 2010 (UTC)


Although the nature of a concubine relationship is defined, the nature of sex within that relationship is not explicitly stated. Shouldn't that be more clear? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:34, 25 May 2008 (UTC)


I don't think pilegesh should be merged into concubinage(as someone has proposed on pilegesh page) pilegesh is a a term primarily used in the context of Judaism and Jewish law and thus should have a separate article like mutah (a Muslim form of a pilegesh like relationship)has. 17:47, 19 March 2007 (UTC)

Loan word?Edit

What is the source for the notion that Pilegesh is a loan word into Hebrew from Ancient Greek,and not the other way around? Sochwa (talk) 14:29, 11 January 2016 (UTC)

Reservations regarding article contentEdit

I have some serious reservations about this entry as it stands.

1) AFAIK, in many societies that practiced concubinage, it was a specific legal status and concubines had specific rights, though not equal to those of a spouse.

2) Therefore, the "concubinal relationship" is not similar to modern Common law marriage or de facto marriage.


If you have some concrete information, add it. Be bold! :) —Frecklefoot 16:57, 2 Mar 2004 (UTC)

Added the reference starting with "In ancient times..." to the first section. Prof Philip Daileader mentions this in his series of lecture on the Early Middle Ages, produced by The Teaching Company. I have been unable to find a print source for the same material.

Common LawEdit

Removed reference to common law marriage. A common law marriage is a marriage.

I agree, and I believe the reference to a California case should be removed, as it is about Mexican common-law marriage which is called 'concubina'. The referenced article even says: "Vargas contends concubinage is equivalent to a Mexican common law marriage...". --Bobbozzo (talk) 01:08, 23 February 2009 (UTC)
I went ahead and removed the reference. --Bobbozzo (talk) 01:12, 23 February 2009 (UTC)

Article nameEdit

Is "Concubinage" the best name for this article? It makes the writing and reading awkward and obscures the meaning. Wouldn't it be more correct to name the article "Concubine" and re-write the article for that reference? —Frecklefoot 16:57, 2 Mar 2004 (UTC)

Why was this re-directed from Living Together?Edit

I think this category has a very judgmental sound to it. Concubinage implies slavery and many couples who live together outside of marriage do so with mutual consent. To lump all cohabiting couples with sexual slaves is unfair, and it shows a bias towards marriage.

Quite - the article, or at least the initial (sophomoric) sections - should be deleted in toto as they cannot be salvaged. The main problem is not the judgmental tone, but the fact that it talks about entirely different types of relationships. WikiFlier 08:58, 6 June 2006 (UTC)

Heterosexual vs. homosexual cohabitationEdit

The article includes the following:

Several US states legislatively forbid cohabitation between heterosexual partners. The law is not typically enforced, but various public agencies are said to discriminate against their employees using such laws. Some civil rights activists believe that such use of the law is unconstitutional, and provides homosexuals with rights denied to heterosexuals.

That passage is in need of some serious verification. First, can anyone name states that outlaw heterosexual cohabitation but have no laws that would extend to homosexual cohabitation? For obvious reasons, states that had sodomy laws up until Lawrence v. Texas don't count. Second, if "some civil rights activists" genuinely believe such a thing, then names, direct quotations, and primary sources are in order. Otherwise, the reference to "some civil rights activists" is just so many weasel words. Doctor Whom 17:53, 14 January 2006 (UTC)

IMO, this passage misrepresents the laws. Some anti-homosexual groups use this argument in relation to protected domestic partnerships. Pretty sure that Georgia has some laws controlling welfare benifits that disallow co-habitation. More often enforced against heterosexual co-habitation. But it has been used against homosexual co-habitation, too. Will check sources for clarification. --FloNight 09:54, 30 January 2006 (UTC)

Total Misunderstanding of TermEdit

For all the sophomoric outrage at unequal relationships, male superiority etc., the term concubine does NOT simply mean "living together without obligation".

Rather, a concubine is a lower grade quasi-wife and as such entitled to a certain level of economic support. Similarly, her children have a defined status as children of the father. Where there are no "legitimate" heirs, the child of a concubine may inherit the father's position and estate.

A concubine remains exclusively attached to her man for life, or at least for a long period of time. The term "concubine" also implies the existence of a higher class wife.

The term concubina is well defined, for example, in Mexican law. See for example this decision by a California court dealing with the concept of concubina under Mexican law.

In Japan, the most famous emperor of recent times, the Meiji emperor, was the son of a concubine. He was groomed for the succession because other potential heirs were deemed unsuitable.

To sum up, a concubine is far more than a partner in a casual relationship. The difference is precisely that she does have - limited - rights as a minor spouse. She may even have gone through a form of "wedding" with the "husband". WikiFlier 09:20, 6 June 2006 (UTC)

Further to "Total Misunderstanding of Term"Edit

This is linked to "Concubinato" in Spanish; and I believe these are false cognates. Concubinato is more akin to "Domestic Partnership." —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:00, 13 May 2011 (UTC)

Concubinage rulesEdit 21:59, 8 June 2007 (UTC)

In Al Nissaa 3, The Quran mentions that you may marry one wife or live with a concubine ما ملكت أيمانكم. I need your help with details about this relationship and its rules and borderlines.

I've removed the reference to Hinduism and Buddhism as they clearly don't follow the Christian Bible. If you can find a reference to concubines in the sutras feel free to re add.. Secretlondon (talk) 00:15, 29 November 2007 (UTC)

Solomon factEdit

says 300 wives, 700 concubines here, on the wiki page for Solomon, its reversed, just thought i'd let someone know —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:49, 4 May 2008 (UTC)

Can men be concubines to women?Edit

Is there anywhere in history they have been? I've heard somewhere in Africa women are regarded as superior and the men take their last names rather than the other way around. (talk) 02:07, 1 December 2008 (UTC)

Men cannot be concubines to women. Concubines by definition can only be women. I haven't heard of the supposed African society that you point to, but even if it exists it would not matter when it comes to this article. -TrynaMakeADollar (talk) 10:01, 22 February 2020 (UTC)


I'm not aware of current practices or the extent of the practice in ancient history, but I think there is scholarly study on the role of the "concubinus". There was information on this in the article, but it was removed without explanation. I have re-added it, and hope that, if it's removed again, it will at least be explained. See this link for a translation of Catallus and notes on it, which refer to the slave "boyfriend" a young lord kept, while engaged. I am not a scholar, so I cannot say definitely what the role of concubini is or was, but I believe there have been periods in history where the taking of an official male lover (or lovers) was not condemned in certain cultures. See pederasty for an indication of this, especially the Romans section. As this article is (or should be?) on concubinage in general, I do not see why concubini should be excluded, unless there is evidence to support that it was not true concubinage. Maedin\talk 21:06, 5 December 2008 (UTC)

I know this is very old. But just to answer your question, a concubine by definition is a woman who is in a interpersonal and sexual relationship with a man. Concubinage can only exist between a man and a woman. Also, a man cannot be a concubine of a woman. Only a woman can be a concubine.[1][2] -TrynaMakeADollar (talk) 08:27, 22 February 2020 (UTC)

A Chinese Emperor with his concubines inspecting his fantasy fishing fleetEdit

Could someone replace this misleading image with something else please? The couple were not even East Asians at all. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:19, 5 January 2010 (UTC)

Is that the actual name of the painting, or just a description? If the former, then presumably it should be capitalized and italicised, e.g. as "A Chinese Emperor With His Concubines Inspecting His Fantasy Fishing Fleet, by Jacques Vigouroux Duplessis". If the latter, then I can only see one concubine (and indeed, how do we know it's a concubine and not a wife etc). Plus, what does it mean by a "fantasy fishing fleet"? Wardog (talk) 10:11, 9 June 2009 (UTC)

This picture is pointless. It is a western fantasy rather than a realistic portrayal of China Imperial life. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:11, 15 July 2009 (UTC)

Voluntary / ForcedEdit

This article makes it sound like concubinage is voluntary. There is the statement: "concubinage was frequently voluntary." That statement implies that sometimes concubinage was not voluntary; forced concubinage would involve repeated rape and should be discussed. It's also questionable how voluntary the "voluntary" concubinage really was.

The article states: "legitimate wives often gave their maids to their husbands to atone, at least in part, if they were barren, as in the cases of Sarah and Hagar, Rachel and Bilhah." How can a wife give a maid to a husband? What is going on there should be made explicit. It sounds like the husband and wife had a slave or semi-slave maid who was regarded as property. As the wife was barren, the wife tolerated the husband repeatedly raping the slave maid.

odd, nothing about Christian (particularly Roman Catholic) concubinesEdit

There was a long tradition, going almost up to the modern era, of Roman Catholic priests having concubines, particularly in small towns. Not often admitted, but pervasive nonetheless. We hear a great deal about Jewish and Islamic here, but not a word about Roman Catholic . . .! (talk) 12:26, 19 March 2012 (UTC)captcrisis

Islamic TheologyEdit

This part is interesting with some valuable information, but does not meet the Neutral Point of View standards of Wikipedia, especially in such phrases as [This is how Islam set an example of equating a slave to free human where standards of justice demanded.], which come across as a lecture from a teacher to pupils. It immediately puts the question, "says who?" Please could this be edited to make this particular part of the article more neutral? (talk) 21:58, 27 August 2012 (UTC)

It refers to chapter 4, verse iii "But if you fear that you will not be just, then [marry only] one or those your right hand possesses." i.e. it says to MARRY the slave (what your right hand possesses), doesn't it? Not to keep her as a concubine...The flow of this seems to be quite a bit of original research/opinion. (talk) 15:28, 18 February 2013 (UTC)

  • I took the liberty of neutralizing the section a little bit by removing the following statements, all of which lacked any references:

-"The ancient Greek, Roman and pre-Islamic Arab cultures were subjugated with inhuman traditions, taboos and rules of misusing slave woman by raping, selling, sharing etc." True, but comparing Islam with noncontemporary ancient cultures is not the focus of the section.

-"It was a reforming measure for penetrating essential change that Arab culture required then." This is just a poorly worded sentence whose point was restated more eloquently in the very next sentence anyway by, "Awarding to concubines (slave women) status equivalent to wives and fatherhood to their children was in fact a revolution in the society for considering slaves equivalent to elites."

-"Islam thus taught mankind to treat human as human instead of throw-able commodity." -"Muhammad hence set an example of equality." -"That is how Islam discouraged unjust attitudes, taboos and customs against slaves and concubines." -"In fact today's world has reached and adopted such pro-human standards because of the centuries long efforts of Islam that consistently discouraged concubinage through enforcing standards to treat slaves equivalent to elites and manumit them as possible."

Removed the above non-neutral point of view statements. Statements of personal opinion have no place in Wikipedia. A more acceptable and neutral way of conveying these ideas would be to cite well-respected scholars on Islam who have made similar analyses of the Quran and of the historical influence of Islam. Otherwise, leave the analysis to the reader. The nobility of Muhammad in his fair treatement of his concubines speaks for itself.

I also made a few other minor edits mostly for grammar and brevity and combining redundant sentences. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:50, 2 March 2013 (UTC)

This section still has neutrality problems, it's clearly written from a pro-Islam POV and needs to be balanced. Those women taken into sex slavery historically (and currently) would doubtless struggle to recognise the rosy view presented here. (talk) 20:20, 23 August 2014 (UTC)

I disagree. This section discusses the Islamic jurisprudence concerning concubinage, and not the experiences of concubines in the Islamic world. The jurisprudential discussion seems neutral to me – though I speak without expert knowledge. This section is similar to the "In Judaism" section which, as of yet, has attracted no dispute of its neutrality. Rcrptmncr (talk) 22:58, 29 July 2015 (UTC)
I just went about reorganizing the article to put like items together. To me it seems obvious that the situation under slavery in the United States goes under the Christianity section, even though in no uncertain terms nearly every modern Christian would disavow such practices. It stands to reason likewise that Islamic State practices go under Islam, even if good Muslims repudiate the group as unrepresentative of their religion in every way. This is an overall taxonomy of religion we are using to organize this material, not a key for identifying particular species. Wnt (talk) 20:13, 25 April 2016 (UTC)
-Islam gives men and women equality. According to some scholar concubine are allowed if the man take permission from his wife. If the wife did or the girl whom the man want to take as concubine do not agree then the man can not take her as concubine. On the other hand many influencial scholar of islam like Muhammad Asad disagree with it according to those scholar Islam did not give permission to Premarital sex. According to them if someone one to have relation whom they right hand posses then they have to marry them first. For more information check this article. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Ominictionary (talkcontribs) 07:50, 6 October 2016 (UTC)

Copy editingEdit

I copy edited all of this article except the Islam section, because that section seems to be under discussion. I worked on all the other sections.Coaster92 (talk) 06:33, 1 May 2013 (UTC)

Fixing Paul SourcesEdit

The verses cited to at the end (1 Cor. 3) have nothing to do with sex. Perhaps the editor meant 1 Cor. 7? Emperor001 (talk) 00:09, 23 June 2014 (UTC)

Copy Editing: "China" sectionEdit

I tagged the "China" section of this article, specifically the paragraph that begins with "A display of concubinage...." It seems either to have been written by a non-native English speaker, or to be a rough translation. If I get some free time, I might take a stab at it if no one else has by then. Also, the paragraphs needs citations. Matuko 17:32, 28 July 2018 (UTC)

"A display of concubinage is in" could be worded better. The word excellent needs to be changed to something but what? Roll back what I did on the article if you think it's worse. CryMeAnOcean (talk) 10:05, 29 July 2018 (UTC)
In the last sentence of that section "but remain deep spiritual love to his cousin" needs work. CryMeAnOcean (talk) 10:06, 29 July 2018 (UTC)

My changesEdit

I'd like to see some more reasonings for why my changes were reverted beyond "well the article has always said this before". Tons of old sources are incorrect and don't reflect the actual history of a people described, (like avoiding LGBT history). I'd like to known why my sources apperently aren't good enough to be included.★Trekker (talk) 09:28, 4 April 2020 (UTC)

Let me just say (respectfully) that I am not interested in engaging in a very long and unproductive argument over an issue that I see as having a pretty obvious answer. I’ve grown tiresome of useless arguments on WP and I am sure you have as well, especially considering that you’ve been on WP a whole lot longer than I have. Also, I would like to say that I am not trying to avoid LGBT topics on WP articles at all. I know that your statement above did not imply that, but I just want to make that clear.
Concubinage can only exist between a man and a woman. It’s not just some dictionary definitions that say that, reliable sources say that. But first off, dictionary definitions can and have been used as cites on very well established WP articles. See the Sexual Intercourse WP article for examples of this. Here are some other RS that clearly define concubines as only women and concubinage as only being between a man and a woman.[3][4][5][6] The Oxford University press defines a concubine as "a woman who lives with a man but has lower status than his wife or wives". Here is an academic source talking about concubinage in Anglo-Saxon England and polygyny, which is when a man has sexual relations with multiple women.[7] Here is the legal definition of a concubine.[8] The fact is that concubinage is adjacent to marriage and heavily connected to sexual reproduction and thus it can only exist between men and women.
Sure, concubini did exist, and technically still exist just like concubines technically still exist. But they are not concubines and they are not related to concubinage. They are different and off-topic for this WP article. However I do think that a WP article for concubini could exist or that it should at least have its own section in a relevant WP article (which I believe it does). But this article is not that article. Under Roman Law, concubinage was defined as the cohabitating of a man and a woman outside of the man’s marriage[9], implying sexual intercourse and it also talks about the children born from this relationship.
"Male concubines" don’t exist because they go directly against what the true definition of a concubine is. Some people (and even sources) may refer to concubini as “male concubines” but that is just to relay the type of relationship that those 2 men may have. It’s like saying “male harem”. That is incorrect, because (as everyone knows) harems are a specific area where women reside, specifically where the wives, and concubines of a man live. But the average reader will be able to understand that “male harem” is intended to mean an area where only men reside even if the usage of the term is technically incorrect. Like harems, concubinage and concubines have a long and historically established definition and culture that is related to only women. Including concubinus in this article would be offtopic and go against the definition of a concubine.
I haven’t checked this but Hardyplants stated that one of the sources that you used appears to be about fictional writing.
As a sidenote...Yay! I've just met another fan of Bret Hart on Wikipedia! -TrynaMakeADollar (talk) 07:15, 7 April 2020 (UTC)

Suggested intro for Concubines in the US re:law, slavery, consent, and repudiation of slavery on legal aspectsEdit

I feel that the content in the section is relevant in a legal and historical context of the use of the English word concubinage but the discussion of sexual relationships with slaves needs some context. The resulting reality in law and legal custom is that in hindsight the only consenting or non-rape relationship possible is when a slave had 'stolen back' her own consent and had an 'illicit' affair with another slave or free-person who was also 'stealing' the truly voluntary and un-coerced by neither hope for reward nor fear of punishment the consent, affections, and/or sexual attentions of the slave and without the proxy consent of the slave's owner. This as opposed to a master imposing a breeding program upon two slaves where both would be in a situation of rape at ever occurrence and may also define any period of coerced pregnancy, in another example a widow ordering a slave into her bed for her sexual enjoyment no matter what the feelings of the unfreed slaves would also be him being raped. The Foster and Allain cites could also show women taking Concubines qualified with slave-rape but of the male identity concubine for contrast in this article.

Text: Relationships with slaves in the United States and Confederate States were sometimes euphemistically referred to as concubinary. From lifelong to single or serial sexual visitations these relationships with un-freed slaves illustrate a radical power imbalance between a human owned as chattel and the legal owner of same; they are now defined, without regard for claims of sexual attraction or affection by either party, to be rape. This is because when personal ownership of slaves was enshrined in the law an enslaved person had no legal power over their own legal personhood, the legal control to which was held by another entity, therefore a slave could never give real and legal consent in any aspect of their life. The inability to give any kind of consent when enslaved is in part due to the ability of a slave master to legally coerce acts and declarations including those of of affection, attraction, and consent through rewards and punishments, but legally the concept of chattel slavery in the United States and Confederate States defined and enforced in the law owning the legal personhood of a slave; meaning that the proxy for legal consent was found with the slave's master who was the sole source of consent in the law to the bodily integrity and all efforts of that slave except as regulated or limited by law. With slavery being recognized as a crime against humanity in United States law as well as in international customary law the legal basis of slavery is repudiated for all time and therefore repudiates any rights of owner-rapists had had to exercise any proxy sexual or other consent for their slaves.[10][11][12][13] /text — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:06, 7 July 2020 (UTC)

  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ "Sexual Relations Between Elite White Women and Enslaved Men in the Antebellum South: A Socio-Historical Analysis", J. M. Allain, Inquiries Journal, 2013, Vol. 5 No. 08, pg. 1
  11. ^ Foster, Thomas A. “Sexual Abuse of Black Men Under American Slavery.” Journal of History and Sexuality 20, 3 (2011): 445-464.
  12. ^ Susan Bordo, "Are Mothers Persons?", Unbearable Weight: Feminism, Western Culture, and the Body, Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press, 2003, 71–97.
  13. ^ Rule 93. Rape and other forms of sexual violence are prohibited., 161 rules of customary international humanitarian law identified in volume I (rules) of the International Committee of the Red Cross’s study on customary IHL, Cambridge University Press 2005.
Return to "Concubinage" page.