The introduction begins this study of conubinage, or, informal marriage—a long-term, non-marital, sexual union—in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Venice. It sets the parameters for the study. While all social classes made use of concubinage, their motivations and methods differed considerably. For this reason, while I consider concubinage in its entirety, I have divided it according to its elite and lower-class forms, and sought to characterize the motivations of each. Each of the subsequent chapters addresses concubinaries within a broader context: the family, religious and secular authorities, and the broader community.