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What is a "proved son?" What does it mean for a child to be "proved."

Here is the context: I was reading on Wikipedia about Lady Godiva and it said

Lady Godiva was the wife of Leofric, Earl of Mercia. They had one proved son Aelfgar, Earl of Mercia.

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What's the historical context? Specific country's inheritance laws? Royal bloodlines/kingship rights? –  DVK Jan 20 '12 at 18:48
    
They probably mean son between husband and wife, until recently the only guaranteed parent was the mother, the father was expected to be the husband of the wife but that was not always the case. But like DVK says the context here is important. –  MichaelF Jan 20 '12 at 19:32
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up vote 6 down vote accepted

The country was England, and "proved son" in this context means "legitimate son."

Leofric probably had many sons, but only one by his lawful spouse, Lady Godiva. More to the point, he had affairs with a bunch of other women, who produced sons that may or may not have been his.

The more important issue (absent today's DNA tests) is: was Lady Godiva's son actually his? English law strongly presumes this to be the case, except when it was basically impossible (e.g. when the man had been away from home for a whole year before the child's birth). Given that Leofric cohabited with his wife, and the child at least somewhat resembled him, English law presumed, and therefore "proved" that the child was his.

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