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How were marital and sexual relationships woven into the fabric of late medieval society, and what form did these relationships take? Using extensive documentary evidence from both the ecclesiastical court system and the records of city and royal government, as well as advice manuals, chronicles, moral tales, and liturgical texts, Shannon McSheffrey focuses her study on England's largest city in the second half of the fifteenth century.
Marriage was a religious union-one of the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church and imbued with deep spiritual significance-but the marital unit of husband and wife was also the fundamental domestic, social, political, and economic unit of medieval society. As such, marriage created political alliances at all levels, from the arena of international politics to local neighborhoods. Sexual relationships outside marriage were even more complicated. McSheffrey notes that medieval Londoners saw them as variously attributable to female seduction or to male lustfulness, as irrelevant or deeply damaging to society and to the body politic, as economically productive or wasteful of resources. Yet, like marriage, sexual relationships were also subject to control and influence from parents, relatives, neighbors, civic officials, parish priests, and ecclesiastical judges.
Although by medieval canon law a marriage was irrevocable from the moment a man and a woman exchanged vows of consent before two witnesses, in practice marriage was usually a socially complicated process involving many people. McSheffrey looks more broadly at sex, governance, and civic morality to show how medieval patriarchy extended a far wider reach than a father's governance over his biological offspring. By focusing on a particular time and place, she not only elucidates the culture of England's metropolitan center but also contributes generally to our understanding of the social mechanisms through which premodern European people negotiated their lives.
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- Verlag: University of Pennsylvania Press, Inc.
- Seitenzahl: 304
- Erscheinungstermin: 23. April 2013
- ISBN-13: 9780812203974
- Artikelnr.: 39132107
PART I. LAW AND SOCIAL PRACTICE IN THE MAKING OF MARRIAGE IN LATE MEDIEVAL LONDON
Chapter 1. Making a Marriage
Chapter 2. Courtship and Gender
Chapter 3. By the Father's Will and the Friends' Counsel
Chapter 4. Gender, Power, and the Logistics of Marital Litigation
Chapter 5. Place, Space, and Respectability
PART II. GOVERNANCE, SEX, AND CIVIC MORALITY
Chapter 6. Governance
Chapter 7. Gender, Sex, and Reputation
Conclusion: Sex, Marriage, and Medieval Concepts of the Public
Appendix: Legal Sources