Marriage and the Family in the Middle Ages

Marriage and the Family in the Middle Ages

by Frances Gies


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From bestselling historians Frances and Joseph Gies, authors of the classic “Medieval Life” series, comes this compelling, lucid, and highly readable account of the family unit as it evolved throughout the Medieval period—reissued for the first time in decades.

“Some particular books that I found useful for Game of Thrones and its sequels deserve mention. Life in a Medieval Castle and Life in a Medieval City, both by Joseph and Frances Gies.” —George R. R. Martin, author of Game of Thrones

Throughout history, the significance of the family—the basic social unit—has been vital. In Marriage and the Family in the Middle Ages, acclaimed historians Frances and Joseph Gies trace the development of marriage and the family from the medieval era to early modern times. It describes how the Roman and barbarian cultural streams merged under the influence of the Christian church to forge new concepts, customs, laws, and practices. Century by century, the Gies follow the development—sometimes gradual, at other times revolutionary—of significant components in the history of the family including:

  • The basic functions of the family as a production unit, as well as its religious, social, judicial, and educational roles.
  • The shift of marriage from private arrangement between families to public ceremony between individuals, and the adjustments in dowry, bride-price, and counter-dowry.
  • The development of consanguinity rules and incest taboos in church law and lay custom.
  • The peasant family in its varying condition of being free or unfree, poor, middling, or rich.
  • The aristocratic estate, the problem of the younger son, and the disinheritance of daughters.
  • The Black Death and its long-term effects on the family.
  • Sex attitudes and customs: the effects of variations in age of men and women at marriage.
  • The changing physical environment of noble, peasant, and urban families.
  • Arrangements by families for old age and retirement.

Expertly researched, master historians Frances and Joseph Gies—whose books were used by George R.R. Martin in his research for Game of Thrones—paint a compelling, detailed portrait of family life and social customs in one of the most riveting eras in history.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062966810
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 08/06/2019
Series: Medieval Life
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 400
Product dimensions: 5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Frances (1915–2013) and Joseph (1916–2006) Gies were the world’s bestselling historians of medieval Europe. Together and separately, they wrote more than twenty books, which col-lectively have sold more than a million copies. They lived in Michigan.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Why Condole?

Condole: To express sympathy or sorrow; I condoled with himin his loss.
— American Heritage Dictionary

I'm So Sorry

You read it in the newspaper or the telephone rings; the loved one of a friend has died. Among the thoughts that cross your mind are the desire to help in some way, to respond to your friend's sorrow and pain. The wish to condole is such a human trait, yet most of us are at a loss to acknowledge, in a caring and loving way, the grief of others. That's understandable. No one has ever taught us the art of condolence. And when we try to draw from our own experiences of loss, we find that those who have tried to condole us, friends and relations with the best of intentions, have frequently said or done exactly the wrong thing.

We want to comfort, to condole, but we don't know what to write, what to say, o r what to do. Days fade into each other and the call never seems to be made; that letter just never seems to get written. Sound familiar?

What is it about our confrontation with another's anguish that causes a tightness in our chest, a constriction in our throat, the primal urge, tempered only by social form, to run? What causes the words to slip away when we are faced with another's grief? Is it overwhelming compassion, or is it the reflection of our own mortality mirrored in another's suffering? Sometimes, when we respond to the grief of others, our deepest fears surface and we are reminded of our own experiences with the pain of loss. Yet, we know intuitively that in offering comfortand sympathy to another, each of us gains.

Grieving embraces the mysterious, unknowable aspects of existence and has the possibility of lending insight into oneself, one's choices, and the profound human longing to understand. Those who grieve, as well as those who have died, c! an The Art of Condolence. Copyright © by Leonard M. Zunin. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Table of Contents

1.Historians Discover the Family3
2.Roots: Roman, German, Christian16
II.The Early Middle Ages
3.The European Family: 500-70045
4.The Carolingian Age68
5.Anglo-Saxon England99
Marriage and the Family in the Year 1000116
III.The High Middle Ages
6.The Family Revolution of the Eleventh Century121
7.The Twelfth Century: New Family Models133
8.Peasants Before the Black Death: 1200-1347157
9.The Aristocratic Lineage: Perils of Primogeniture186
10.Children in the High Middle Ages196
Marriage and the Family in the Year 1300218
IV.The Late Middle Ages
11.The Impact of the Black Death223
12.The Late Medieval Peasant Family: 1350-1500235
13.A Family of the English Landed Gentry251
14.A Merchant's Family in Fifteenth-Century Florence271
Marriage and the Family After the Black Death291
V.The End of the Middle Ages

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Marriage and the Family in the Middle Ages 1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I purchased this book for a school project. I found the book dry and boring. Too many details to follow and by the end of a page you were not sure what you had read. I was forced to completely read it. Only a history major might find it of interest.Don't wasted the $14.00 on it.