The Medieval Idea of Marriage

The Medieval Idea of Marriage

The Medieval Idea of Marriage

The Medieval Idea of Marriage

Synopsis

A fascinating insight into the nature of marriage in the Middle Ages, both in its social, political, legal, and religious aspects, and in its treatment in art and literature.

Excerpt

I first had the notion of writing a history of medieval marriage in 1962, and I now offer the public some footprints of a great idea. the first conception rapidly grew into an ambitious scheme—perhaps to be realized in my old age; but as I contemplated it I gradually became aware that a historical theme which used to be remarkably neglected had become the centre of fashion; since 1962 the history of marriage has been a major growth area in historical studies, and medieval marriage has had its share. So numerous and profound are the books and articles and research projects which have flourished since 1962 that my ambitious idea has grown very modest again.

A general history of medieval marriage would still be immensely ambitious, for the literature is vast, and the disciplines to be traversed numerous and intensely diverse. I have neither the learning nor the inclination to gather an encyclopaedia of the subject. But it seems to me that there is something still to say. Marriage has been studied by social historians, theologians, legal historians, students of literature in many languages, and experts on art and architecture. But they have not always fully understood each other's tongues. My aim is ecumenical: to draw together experts in these various disciplines, to try to bring them into a single room, to see their contributions discussed in a common language. I have made the period 1100–1500 the centre of my discourse—though there is indeed much more on the twelfth and early thirteenth . . .

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