Publication – Elisabeth van Houts, « Married Life in the Middle Ages, 900-1300 »

Married Life in the Middle Ages, 900-1300 contains an analysis of the experience of married life by men and women in Christian medieval Europe, c. 900-1300. The study focusses on the social and emotional life of the married couple rather than on the institutional history of marriage, breaking it into three parts: Getting Married – the process of getting married and wedding celebrations; Married Life – the married life of lay couples and clergy, their sexuality, and any remarriage; and Alternative Living – which explores concubinage and polygyny, as well as the single life in contrast to monogamous sexual unions.

In this volume, van Houts deals with four central themes. First, the tension between patriarchal family strategies and the individual family member’s freedom of choice to marry and, if so, to what partner; second, the role played by the married priesthood in their quest to have individual agency and self-determination accepted in their own lives in the face of the growing imposition of clerical celibacy; third, the role played by women in helping society accept some degree of gender equality and self-determination to marry and in shaping the norms for married life incorporating these principles; fourth, the role played by emotion in the establishment of marriage and in married life at a time when sexual and spiritual love feature prominently in medieval literature.


Elisabeth van Houts, Honorary Professor in European Medieval History, University of Cambridge

Elisabeth van Houts was born in the Netherlands. She received her doctorate from the University of Groningen (Netherlands) in 1982. Since 1984, she has lived and worked in Cambridge where she teaches medieval history,and has been a Fellow of Emmanuel College since 1997. The University of Cambridge awarded her a DLitt (a higher doctorate) in 2001 and the title of Honorary Professor in European Medieval History in 2011. van Houts has published widely on Anglo-Norman history, the history of women and gender, and medieval historiography and memory.

Table des matières :


Part I: Getting Married
1: Making of marriage
2: Wedding celebrations

Part II: Married Life
3: Sexuality and Love
4: Authority and Collaboration
5: End of Marriage and Remarriage
6: Clerical marriages

Part III: Alternative Living
7: Living with one or more partners
8: Single life


Informations pratiques :

Elisabeth van Houts, Married Life in the Middle Ages, 900-1300, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2019 (Oxford Studies in Medieval European History). 320 Pages | 3 black and white images. 234x156mm. ISBN: 9780198798897. Prix : 65 £.

Source : Oxford University Press

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