Marriage and the Family in the Middle Ages

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Harper Collins, Aug 3, 2010 - History - 384 pages
1 Review
A compelling, lucid, and highly readable chronicle of medieval life written by the authors of the bestselling Life in a Medieval Castle and Life in a Medieval City

Historians have only recently awakened to the importance of the family, the basic social unit throughout human history. This book traces the development of marriage and the family from the Middle Ages to the early modern era. It describes how the Roman and barbarian cultural streams merged under the influence of the Christian church to forge new concepts, customs, laws, and practices. Century by century it follows the development -- sometimes gradual, at other times revolutionary -- of significant elements in the history of the family:

  • The basic functions of the family as production unit, as well as its religious, social, judicial, and educational roles.

  • The shift of marriage from private arrangement between families to public ceremony between individuals, and the adjustments in dowry, bride-price, and counter-dowry.

  • The development of consanguinity rules and incest taboos in church law and lay custom.

  • The peasant family in its varying condition of being free or unfree, poor, middling, or rich.

  • The aristocratic estate, the problem of the younger son, and the disinheritance of daughters.

  • The Black Death and its long-term effects on the family.
  • Sex attitudes and customs: the effects of variations in age of men and women at marriage.

  • The changing physical environment of noble, peasant, and urban families.

  • Arrangements by families for old age and retirement.

 

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Marriage and the family in the Middle Ages

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Two experienced popular historians have assembled a well-researched and well-written overview of a lively topic in medieval scholarship, the history of the family. They start from the Roman, Germanic ... Read full review

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This is a great book. The narrative can be a bit dry in places, and a little redundant in some spots, however it stands as a solid work despite these setbacks. You should be aware of your motivation prior to reading this book. If you are bored and looking for something "entertaining" to read, then I would suggest passing on this title. However, if you want to brush up on family customs, marriage, and medieval life in general, and you want to read factual accounts that have been painstaking recreating from actual surviving documents and not someone's guesswork, then this is definitely an invaluable reference. It is by far the most scholarly work of it's type I have personally seen on the subject.  

Contents

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II
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3
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4
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5
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Marriage and the Family in the Year 1000
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IV
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11
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12
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Marriage and the Family After the Black Death
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V
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15
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III
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10
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Marriage and the Family in the Year 1300
iii
Bibliography
xx
Searchable Terms
xlvi
Acknowledgments
lxiv
Copyright
lxvi
About the Publisher
lxx
Copyright

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About the author (2010)

Frances (1915–2013) and Joseph (1916–2006) Gies were the world’s bestselling historians of medieval Europe. Together and separately, they wrote more than twenty books, which col-lectively have sold more than a million copies. They lived in Michigan.

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