The Knight, the Lady and the Priest: The Making of Modern Marriage in Medieval France

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Press:University Of Chicago Press University Of Chicago Press; Reprint edition (January 15, 1994)
Publication Date:1994-01-15
ISBN:9780226167688
Author Name:Georges Duby
Pages:332
Language:English
Edition:Reprint Edition

Content

This ambitious study sets out to discover what marriage meant in the daily lives of the nobles of the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth centuries. 
Through entertaining anecdotes, family dramas, and striking quotations, Duby succeeds in bringing his subjects to life, making us feel as if we understand the motives and conflicts of those who inhabited the distant past."It is typical of Duby's modest spirit and his book-long concern with the ancient status of beleaguered wives that he ends his study with a plea: 'We must not forget the women.
Much has already been said about them.
But how much do we really know?' Not everything, certainly, but far more than we did before the author began these charmingly erudite investigations."—Ken Turan, Time"It is refreshing to find a historian who is always conscious that we simply do not know what or how people thought 1000 years ago.
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Duby explains the complicated machinations of the medieval churchman and the paterfamilias in a scholarly but lively style."—Sarah Lawson, New Statesman"Duby has written an extraordinarily rich book—a panoramic view of medieval marriage and the relations between men and women, full of arresting insights and human detail.
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It is the work of a master historian at the peak of his powers on a subject of central relevance, compulsive and essential reading."—P.
Stafford, British HistoryGeorges Duby (1919-1996) was a member of the Académie française and for many years held the distinguished chair in medieval history at the Collège de France.
His books include The Three Orders; The Age of Cathedrals; The Knight, the Lady, and the Priest; Love and Marriage in the Middle Ages; and History Continues, all published by the University of Chicago Press.

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Self-Help,Mid-Life,Politics & Social Sciences,Sociology,Marriage & Family,History,Europe,France



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Comment

 
 

Comment List (Total:7)

  •     This book is a classic in the field and certainly brings out a lot of issues into the arena of discussion.
  •     Mr. Duby is a first-rate scholar and a first-rate story teller. He offers important insights into the understanding of marriage and of how and why it has evolved into our present form of marriage in the West. I think this book's full import is view in light of marriage equality today. We learn from Mr. Duby's study that marriage was perceived quite differently a thousand years ago. He shows how the Church came to dominate marriage and became to sole arbitrator of marriage so as to increase its own power. And this story is told with lively prose and wise insights.
  •     Studies on medieval marriage have become a cottage industry of sorts--with no small thanks to Georges Duby and, particularly, "The Knight, the Lady, and the Priest," along with...
  •     This a useful work on the history of love.
  •     First of all, this is a scholarly book. However, just because it is academic does not mean it is dull. Far from it. Georges Duby was one of the leading historians/social theorists of the 20th century. Most of his career was spent in the south of France but when he was finally lured to Paris, his lectures were so popular that people waited in line to obtain tickets to hear the good professor. Professor Duby's was a long a fruitful career. His concerns were with the economics of the early Middle Ages and the records of the Counts of Guise in northern France. From the patterns of marriage of these ambitious men, Duby found the beginnings of the marriage practices of today. Duby shows how these ambitious men manipulated pedigrees and married and discarded wives in order to increase their wealth and power. Love had nothing to do with it. Like many French histories, this one is not burdened with footnotes. It originated in a series of lectures that Duby gave in this country, which probably accounts for the streamlined presentation of material. I think it is an important book for legal historians, but its value would not be lost on feminists or Francophiles and people who love the Middle Ages.
  •     Medieval legend conjures exotic images of high-walled castles, tournament fields choked with blazons, armored champions vying for the favor of chaste damsels, and courtly love celebrated by troubadours - not necessarily a pragmatic view if one seeks an accurate portrait of domestic relationships.This work ably exposes the realities of 10-12C marriage (arrangement, dowry, property and inheritance rights, infidelity, grounds for dissolution, spousal obligations, etc), as well as prelates who (not without self-interest) elevate it to a sacramental institution.Though some may lament romantic fantasy, the anecdotal account advanced by the author is even more appealing (the enumeration of penance is especially interesting).Also recommended: the author's `France in the Middle Ages 987-1460' (Hachette 1987; Blackwell 1991). Those seeking historical fiction may also want to try the work of Zoé Oldenbourg (`The World is not Enough,' `The Cornerstone,' `Destiny of Fire').
  •     The author has done an excellent work on the concept of marriage during the medieval period in France. While one of the other reviewers noted that the women's perspective is not entirely known, this very point is made known by the author himself - in fact he ends the book with that point in mind. Duby is not biased - it is simply an account based upon the materials that are available without too much speculation beyond that. The reasons for a limited viewpoint are due to the majority of the available records being from monasteries, thus the material being mainly gathered from male and upper class (literate) society.That said, Duby makes ample use of primary sources: biblical references, literature, monastic journals, papal dictation, clergy laws, ect...using even pre-medieval sources such as St Augustine to trace the evolution of perspectives on marriage.The evidence follows an increasing influence of papal authority upon legal marriage by the post-millennial reforms. The attitudes towards women, incest, concubinage, procreation, and divorce are all considered in light of the political and religious views of the day. The power struggle between the religious and secular authorites is a central theme in the book. Interestingly, societies values and the catholic church's doctrines both shifted and varied dramatically during this era to accomadate or justify various motives. The practices and attitudes may seem paradoxical and may be quite shocking - and that is the brilliance in what Duby has achieved. He clearly outlines the confusion and political manipulation involved with early marriage policies and how it reflects a problem that was present in the broad scope of medieval life.Anyone interested in medieval studies or philosophy should give this a read.RECOMMENDATION: To accompany this study it would be helpful to read some of the contemporary literature of the time period that dealt with courtly love. 'The Lais of Marie de France' and Chretien de Troyes 'Arthurian Romances' would be a great additional read.
 

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