History of Marriage
November 8, 2004 5:55 PM   Subscribe

This is obviously politically inspired but hopefully it won't spawn political discussion: What are some good, scholarly social histories of marriage?
posted by kenko to Society & Culture (8 answers total)
Well, the obvious answer here is Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe, which spawned quite a discussion a few years ago. It's still controversial; not everyone agrees with Boswell's interpretation of the evidence, to say the least.
posted by dhartung at 6:32 PM on November 8, 2004

Peter Ward, Courtship, Love and Marriage in Nineteenth-Century English Canada (McGill-Queen's University Press, 1993), which I read in my graduate-level Canadian social history seminar back in 1994; I can't remember a bloody thing about it now.
posted by mcwetboy at 6:33 PM on November 8, 2004

I think that What is Marriage For? The Strange Social History of Our Most Intimate Institution by E. J. Graff is really good.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:04 PM on November 8, 2004

I'm pretty sure we had Marriage and the Family in the Middle Ages (by Frances Gies) in my History of the Family class in college.
posted by mimi at 7:12 AM on November 9, 2004

Also very interesting is The Way we Never Were: American Families and the Nostalgia Trap.
posted by mimi at 7:21 AM on November 9, 2004

This article from the the New Yorker is a good start and mentions a bunch of sources.
From the late Middle Ages until the the sixteenth century, it was much easier to get married than it is today. You did not need your parents’ approval, or the blessing of church or state, or even witnesses. If you were of age—fourteen for boys, twelve for girls—and if you either exchanged words of mutual consent in the present tense (“I take thee as my husband,” “I take thee as my wife”) or exchanged promises of future consent (“I will take thee,” etc.) and then had sexual intercourse, you were married, until death, in the eyes of Catholic Europe.

posted by euphorb at 1:31 PM on November 9, 2004

Thanks everyone. Euphorb, I read that article when it came out but forgot where it was published.
posted by kenko at 7:35 PM on November 9, 2004

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