Medieval Marriage: Symbolism And Society

Paperback | March 7, 2008

byDavid dAvray

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This study shows how marriage symbolism emerged from the world of texts to become a social force affecting ordinary people. It covers the whole medieval period but identifies the decades around 1200 as decisive. New arguments for regarding preaching as a mass medium from the thirteenth centuryare presented, building on the author's Medieval Marriage Sermons. In marriage preaching symbolism was central. Marriage symbolism also became a social force through law, and lay behind the combination of monogamy and indissolubility which made the medieval Church's marriage system a uniquedevelopment in world history. Symbolism is not presented as an explanation on its own: it interacted with other causal factors, notably the eleventh-century Gregorian Reform's drive for celibacy, which made the higher clergy like a third gender and less sympathetic to patriarchal polygamoustendencies. Sexual intercourse as a symbol of Christ's union with the Church became central, not just in mysticism but in society as structured by Church law. Symbolism also explains apparently bizarre rules, such as the exemption from capital punishment of clerics in minor orders provided that theymarried a virgin not a widow. The rules about blessing second marriages are also connected with this nexus of thought. The book is based on a wide range of manuscript sources: sermons, canon law commentaries, Apostolic Penitentiary registers, papal bulls, a gaol delivery roll, and pastoral handbooks. The collection of documents at the end of the book expands the source base for the history of medieval marriagegenerally as well as underpinning the thesis about symbolism.

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This study shows how marriage symbolism emerged from the world of texts to become a social force affecting ordinary people. It covers the whole medieval period but identifies the decades around 1200 as decisive. New arguments for regarding preaching as a mass medium from the thirteenth centuryare presented, building on the author's Med...

David d'Avray is Professor of History at University College London.
Format:PaperbackDimensions:336 pages, 8.5 × 5.43 × 0.83 inPublished:March 7, 2008Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199239789

ISBN - 13:9780199239788

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Table of Contents

Introduction1. Mass Communication2. Indissolubility3. Bigamy4. ConsummationConclusionBibliographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

`Review from previous edition '[d'Avray's] arguments on specific points are entirely convincing. He knows this material better than anyone, and he has taken care to set it out so that the reader can evaluate the argument. The appendix of documents, eighty pages of newly edited material fromsermons, canon law quaestiones, letters and court cases is very valuable ... Anyone with a serious interest in medieval marriage, or medieval sermon studies, or indeed the transmission of knowledge in the Middle Ages, will need to read it.'Ruth Mazo Karras, Reviews in History