English Life and Manners in the Later Middle Ages

By A. Abram | Go to book overview

CHAPTER X
FAMILY LIFE

FEW subjects are as bewildering as the marriage customs of the Middle Ages: they are so full of contradictions that to give a lucid account of them is almost as difficult as to describe the colour of a chameleon. But Family Life is so much affected by the estimation in which marriage is held, that we are forced to make an attempt to understand the medieval point of view on this important matter.

Marriage, it was held, was a sacrament and too sacred an act to come under the jurisdiction of temporal judges, therefore it was governed, not by the Common Law, but by Canon Law, and breaches of marriage vows were punished, not by the State, but by the Church; nevertheless the civic authorities sometimes took the matter into their own hands.1 Yet in spite of this lofty conception, it was in many cases as much a business transaction as any carried on in the market-place, and the contracting parties discussed the terms of the bargain with as much keenness as chapmen haggling over the prices of their goods. The material advantages to be gained from it, the settlement of lands, or the payment of money, were the chief points at issue: compatibility

____________________
1
See above, p. 19, and cf. p. 333.

-113-

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English Life and Manners in the Later Middle Ages
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Preface ix
  • Contents xi
  • List of Illustrations xiii
  • Abbreviations Used in the References xv
  • Chapter I- Social Classes 1
  • Chapter II- Life Amongst the Aristocracy 9
  • Chapter III- Characteristics of Town Life 18
  • Chapter IV- The Position of Women 31
  • Chapter V- The Church and the Nation 46
  • Chapter VI- Some Aspects of Monastic Life 62
  • Chapter VII- Business Life 80
  • Chapter VIII- The Unemployed 95
  • Chapter IX- Aliens in England 103
  • Chapter X- Family Life 113
  • Chapter XI- "Mete and Drinke" 134
  • Chapter XII- The Mirror of Fashion 152
  • Chapter XIII- Houses 173
  • Chapter XIV- Public Health 190
  • Chapter XV- Education 204
  • Chapter XVI- Amusements 230
  • Chapter XVII- Travelling 248
  • Chapter XVIII- National Character 260
  • Appendix Authorities 284
  • Index 337
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