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

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9780415307468: Love, Sex and Marriage in the Middle Ages: A Sourcebook

The emotional state of love, the physical act of sex and the social institution of marriage were central issues of medieval life. Conor McCarthy brings together a wide array of writings as well as informative introductions and explanations, to give a vivid impression of how love, sex and marriage were discussed at the time.

Included are extracts from literary and theological works, medical and legal writings, conduct books, chronicles and letters. They range from well-known texts such as the letters of Abelard and Heloise, Beowulf and the Canterbury Tales to less familiar sources such as Church legislation or court proceedings. The breadth of material shows the diverse and sometimes disparate approaches to love, sex and marriage in medieval culture and illustrates contemporary attitudes and ideologies. The collection includes some material available in Modern English for the first time.

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About the Author:

Conor McCarthy lives in Newcastle, Australia. His other books are Marriage in Medieval England: Law, Literature and Practice and Seamus Heaney and Medieval Poetry.

Review:

"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 source collection would be perfect for any undergraduate course on the subject of medieval sexuality, medieval marriage, or medieval literature. The extensive commentary on the excerpts as well as the exceptionally good introduction raise this work far above average." - Journal of the History of Sexuality 16 (2007)

"Conor McCarthy's book has a detailed and really excellent introduction ... this would make an excellent starting point for students accessing this material and historiography for the first time, but it also suggests investigation of sources that may not automatically spring to the mind even of someone more familiar with the subject matter. As such, the very diversity of sources is impressive ... they represent remarkably well most genres relevant to this area of study."
- Nottingham Medieval Studies 48 (2004)

"By juxtaposing more visible texts that modern scholars tend to privilege with those that express a wider range of views and considerable divergence from the supposed norm (and are deserving of more detailed examination than they have so far received), McCarthy successfully conveys to his reader the diversity of medieval attitudes and encourages students of all levels to appreciate the complexity of the period, which is often lost in the modern need to generalize. By including such a detailed and well-developed discussion of historiography in his introduction, McCarthy provides a useful tool for instructors who address the historical process and the challenges posed by any attempt to interpret a society that is, in many ways, so far removed from our own."
H-France Review 4.106 (2004)

"Eminently erudite [...] remind(s) us of the wealth of documentation that remains from the Middle Ages, and the multiplicity of voices that speak to us about love, sex, marriage, and family." - Catholic Historical Review 90 (2004)

"This book provides an excellent one-volume introduction to this complex subject and makes available a wide range of material that otherwise would be rather difficult to collect, including a number of documents that previously have not been published in any modern edition." - Journal of Church and State 48 (2006)

"This is a very useful book for the teacher or student of medieval society." - Parergon 21 (2004)

"The publication of Love, Sex and Marriage in the Middle Ages: A Sourcebook is most welcome... It could be used in a wide variety of courses. In the hands of a knowledgeable teacher, it provides detail on many aspects of the fate of love, sex and marriage in the Middle Ages." - Glenn W. Olsen, The European Legacy: Toward New Paradigms

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