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Love, Sex and Marriage in the Middle Ages: A Sourcebook

1 rating: 5.0
A book by Conor McCarthy

'The book is valuable for its lucid, sensible contextualization and overviews as well as for its comprehensive collection of source material, and is an excellent addition to the many works in this subject area.' - Medium Aevum 73 (2004)   'This … see full wiki

Tags: Books
Author: Conor McCarthy
Publisher: Routledge
1 review about Love, Sex and Marriage in the Middle Ages:...

Solid compilation on all three topics

  • Sep 8, 2007
This handsomely designed volume compiles mostly British sources in translation, as well as a few Islamic texts along with mainly Western European literary, medical, historical, and legal sources. Attention to all three topics manages to dispel the notion that this book would lack for content. As McCarthy notes in his helpful introduction, the subject gains both more sustained if less explicit treatment than today's readers may imagine.

Besides the expected troubadours, Chaucer, Rabelais, Margery Kempe, Abelard & Heloise, and Marie de France, for example, there are lesser-known works such as extracts from conduct books such as "Holy Virginity," saint's lives, Anglo-Saxon and Norman statutes, Bede, Old English riddles, Gratian, Jerome, lots of Augustine, and medical advice from Avicenna and psuedo-Albertus Magnus. Selections on the controversial practice of "clandestine marriage" gain particular notice. Notably, fascinating testimony from a transvestite prostitute, the ambiguous John/ Eleanor Rykener from London, 1394, attests to a "Boys Don't Cry" Brandon Teena type of case. The dozens of entries are footnoted judiciously; all writings included are preceded by brief notes cross-referenced with an excellent bibliography.

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