Henry Ansgar Kelly

title.none: Murray, Love, Marriage, and the Family in the Middle Ages (Henry Ansgar Kelly )

identifier.other: baj9928.0209.008 02.09.08

identifier.issn: 1096-746X

description.statementofresponsibility: Henry Ansgar Kelly , UCLA,

publisher.none: .

date.issued: 2002

identifier.citation: Murray, Jacqueline, ed. Love, Marriage, and the Family in the Middle Ages: A Reader. Readings in Medieval Civilizations and Cultures: VII. Peterborough, Ontario: Broadview Press, 2001. Pp. xiv, 524. ISBN: $29.95 1-55111-104-7.

type.none: Review

relation.ispartof: The Medieval Review

The Medieval Review 02.09.08

Murray, Jacqueline, ed. Love, Marriage, and the Family in the Middle Ages: A Reader. Readings in Medieval Civilizations and Cultures: VII. Peterborough, Ontario: Broadview Press, 2001. Pp. xiv, 524. ISBN: $29.95 1-55111-104-7.

Reviewed by:

Henry Ansgar Kelly

The series to which this Reader belongs is destined, we are told, for both scholars and students, and aims at supplying collections of translated primary sources, including many hard-to-come-by texts. Headnotes are supplied for each selection, and, at the end, a set of questions. The questions suggest a high-school or at most undergraduate audience. Some of the questions are elementary queries about content, but others are invitations to speculate upon matters concerning which the reader has been given no background. For example, at the end of the fifth selection, a set of excerpts from the Burgundian Code, we are asked (p. 38), "How do these laws show the intermingling of Roman, Germanic, and Christian values?" We have not been instructed on this point; specifically, we have received no information about, or excerpts from, Roman law, while on the Christian front there are a few excerpts from the Bible (pp. 2-9), and from two works of St. Augustine (pp. 15-23), and, on the Germanic side, an excerpt from Tacitus (pp. 10-14). The questions are not mentioned in Murray's brief introduction (pp. xi-xiv). She hopes that the excerpts will "provide a tantalizing sample," so that "the readers will be sufficiently intrigued to read further." But no suggestions for further reading are given. The list at the end of the book (pp. 519-24) simply repeats the information given about sources, but only those still in copyright, and they are identified only by chapter, not by section. There are 80 sections (some with multiple selections), distributed into 9 chapters. It is not easy to keep track of where one is in the reader, mainly because of a wasted opportunity in the running titles: the left-hand pages simply repeat the title of the whole book, a useless procedure (we already know what book we are reading). The chapters (numbers and titles), which serve as right-hand running titles, should have been on the left, with the numbers and names of the excerpts on the right. The book has quite a few illustrations, each simply labeled as "a nineteenth-century drawing" and not further identified. There is a brief index of topics (pp. 511-18), but no index of authors. I puzzled over the index for some time before I realized that the numbers given are not to pages but to section numbers. In order find the desired section, of course, since the numbers are not given in the running titles, one has to do a lot of flipping through pages for beginnings of excerpts, or go to the Table of Contents for each reference. To make the volume more useful as a textbook, therefore, one should have students mark each right-hand page with the number of the selection it contains.

The Table of Contents often does not identify authors but rather describes the topic, like "Prosecutions and Punishments for Sexual Misconduct" (#22, pp. 164-68: excerpts from Gregory of Tours, Matthew of Paris, and cases from the London Consistory Court), and "Marriage Among the Franks" (#46, pp. 332-35, Gregory of Tours). Gregory is also excerpted in ##48-49 and 66. The Index for "Bible references" is inadequate: only fifteen chapters from various books of the Bible are listed, mainly but not always referring to passages excerpted. For example, for Genesis, chap. 1, we are referred to sections 23 and 31. Section 23 consists of 11 pages of excerpts from Lombard's Sentences, and section 31 is an 8-page selection from the letter of Pope Nicolas I to a Bulgarian king; and, true enough, we find a quotation from Gen. 1.28 in #23, on the first page, but in #31 the quotation from Gen. 1.5 comes only on the 5th page. In addition, however, there are other Scripture chapters cited in #31 (like Galatians 3 and 1 Corinthians 3) which are not listed in the Index.

I must confess that I discovered most of these organizational and reference problems after going through the book steadily from beginning to end. There are lots of interesting things in the collection which one can best find by doing just that, paging through the sections one after another. There are probably very few prospective readers, even among seasoned medievalists, who are familiar with all of the sources gathered here and who will not profit by encountering unfamiliar texts. I myself have learned a great deal from many parts of the book. Or at least, I have been inspired, in keeping with the hope of the editor, to check out the original of various readings and to inquire into the latest scholarly judgments concerning them. In fact, it is imperative to seek further information concerning the excerpts, because often enough the headnotes contain misleading or erroneous assertions. From my point of view, the most important misinformation in the book concerns Murray's out-dated ideas about "courtly love," which she accepts in the explanation of John Jay Parry's introduction to his translation of Andreas Capellanus's De amore (which he calls The Art of Courtly Love, [1941]). She gives a dozen pages of excerpts from the translation (#12, pp. 79-92). In her general introduction (p. xii), she says, "For twelfth-century proponents of courtly love, love was best directed outside of marriage"; and in her headnote to #12 she similarly refers to a single historical notion of courtly love, while acknowledging "an ongoing debate about the historicity of courtly love and whether, in fact, it could have existed outside of literary convention" (p. 79). But the main objection such statements about courtly love is that modern scholars have defined a dozen different ideologies as courtly love and spoken as if everyone means same thing by the term. This state of affairs was first exposed by E. Talbot Donaldson in his 1965 essay, "The Myth of Courtly Love" (reprinted and widely read in Donaldson's book Speaking of Chaucer [1970]). For a much more extended analysis of the ambiguity of courtly love, see Roger Boase, The Origin and Meaning of Courtly Love: A Critical Study of European Scholarship (l977), and my review in Speculum 54 (l979) 338-342. In the following list of the book's contents, I give the authors of the excerpts rather than Murray's titles, and I add some qualifications in brackets:

Chapter 1, "Foundations and Influences": 1) Bible (Gen. 2, Lev. 18, Sirach 40, Matt 19, John 2, 1 Cor 7, Eph.5, Col. 3, 1 Peter 3); 2) Tacitus, Germania; 3) Augustine, De bono conjugali; 4) Augustine, City of God; 5) The Burgundian Code; 6) The Laws of Canute (11th cent.); 7) The Penitential of Theodore (7th cent).

Chapter 2, "Love and Its Dangers" [Headnote speaks of ñthe courtly love movementî]: 8) Bible: Song of Songs [Headnote fails to note that the literal level of this book was considered to be about nuptial love]; 9) Bible: Tobit [Headnote claims that medieval moralists urged couples to abstain from sex for a period after marriage, like Tobias, but no medieval commentary is given or referred to]; Romans 1; 1 Cor. 6; 10) Saga of Grettir the Strong: marriage of Thorsteinn and Spes [Headnote assumes some historicity, and the questions invite guesswork about real life]; 11) Einhard, Life of Charlemagne [not dated]; Lorsch Chronicle (12th cent.) ["likely" based on "some real event"]; 12) Andreas Capellanus, The Art of Courtly Love, tr. Parry; 13) Bernart de Ventadorn, two lyric poems; 14) Two Goliardic lyrics; 15) French, German, and Iberian love songs; 16) Marie de France, Equitan; 17) The Owl and the Nightingale (prose trans.); 18) Abelard and Heloise; 19) Dante, Inferno: Paolo and Francesca; 20) Froissart, Chronicle: Edward III and the Countess of Salisbury [story is accepted as true]; 21) Paston Letters; 22) Punishments: Gregory of Tours, History of the Franks; Matthew Paris, English History; London Consistory case, 1475 [unpublished; tr. Shannon McSheffrey; see #30]

Chapter 3, "Marriage and the Church" [Headnote: "The sacrament of marriage was achieved only through the freely exchanged consent of the spouses; the wishes of family or lords were theoretically irrevelant." The word "irrelevant" is too strong. In the excerpts that follow, no account is taken of canon law, for instance Gratian's chapter Aliter (C. 30, q. 5, c. 1), which requires approval of parents. The crucial role of the pope in establishing consent alone as constituting marriage should be noted (Alexander III, Licet preter solitum, Decretals of Gregory IX, 4.4.3)]: 23) Peter Lombard, Sentences, book 4 [on consent alone as constituting marriage, given in the editor's awkward translation]; 24) Hildegard of Bingen, Scivias; 25) Etienne de Foug¶res, Le livre des mani¶res; 26) Fourth Lateran Council, cc. 50-52 (restricting prohibited degrees of kinship, prohibiting clandestine marriage, disallowing hearsay on kinship); 27) Statutes of the Bishop of Salisbury (1217-19); 28) Robert Grosseteste, Templum Dei; 29) John of Salisbury, Historia Pontificalis (on annulment cases) [editor's awk. trans.]; 30) Late fifteenth-century Ecclesiastical Court Cases in England (translation of unpublished records by Shannon McSheffrey; McSheffrey translates other cases in her TEAMS book, Love and Marriage in Late Medieval London, 1995]

Chapter 4, "Marriage Ceremonies, Rituals, and Customs": 31) Pope Nicholas I, Letter to Boris, King of Bulgaria (866); 32) Jacobus de Voragine, Golden Legend: St. Nicholas; 33) Ruodlieb; 34) Sarum Liturgy of Marriage; 35) Wardrobe Accounts of Edward II; Matthew of Paris (marriage in 1252 of the king of Scotland to Margaret of England)

Chapter 5, "Husbands and Wives": 36) Clementine Homilies [4th cent.; here misdated to 1st cent.]; 37) Tertullian, Ad uxorem; 38) Jerome, Adversus Jovinianum; Etienne de BeÙanson, Alphabetum narrationum; 39) Servatus Lupus to Einhard and Einhard's response, 836; 40) Guibert of Nogent; 41) Jacque de Vitry, Sermones vulgares (exempla) [The questions assume that real-life social attitudes can be distilled from these fabliau-like tales]; 42) Adam of Picardy, Sermon (1282); 43) Piers Plowman [The reading is connected with the aftermath of the Black Death, which, however, is not alluded to in the selection; we are not told where in the poem the selection comes (namely, from Passus 9 of the B Text), and the page numbers given for J. F. Goodridge's translation, 146-49, should be 108-09]; 44) Bernardino of Siena, sermon exempla; 45) The Fifteen Joys of Marriage

Chapter 6, "Marriage and Family": 46) Gregory of Tours, History of the Franks; 47) Polyptych of Saint-Germain-des-PrÚs (9th-cent. survey of households); 48) Gregory of Tours, History; Bede, Ecclesiastical History (spiritual marriages); 49) Gregory of Tours, History (a rebellious wife); 50) Drogon de Bergues, Life of St. Godelieve de Ghistelles; 51) Odo of Cluny, Life of St. Gerald of Aurillac; 52) Life of St. Hugh of Lincoln 53) Gesta Normannorum ducum [author of selection not identified, whether William of Jumi¶ges, Orderic Vitalis, or Robert of Torigni]; 54) Magna carta; Matthew Paris; feudal contracts and licenses; 55) King's Bench case, 1280; 56) Manorial court cases; 57) Riley, Memorials of London (housing and households); 58) Coroner cases

Chapter 7, "Childbirth": 59) Gregory I to Augustine of Canterbury (from Bede); 60) Gynecological Handbook (England, 15th cent.); 61) Christine de Pizan, City of Ladies; 62) Sarum Missal; 63) Riley, Memorials of London

Chapter 8, "Parents and Children": 64) Bible (Sirach 3); 65) Jerome, Ad Laetam; 66) Gregory of Tours, History of the Franks; 67) Guibert of Nogent; 68) Eadmer, Life of St. Anselm [Headnote: children given to religion were bound to "a lifelong commitment." But see Gratian, C. 20, q. 1, who first adduces some canons that seem to say this, but then agrees with other canons that contradict it]; 69) Caesarius of Heisterbach, Dialogue on Miracles; Odo of Cheriton, Fables; 70) Bartholomeus Anglicus, De proprietatibus rerum, trans. Trevisa (trans. by ed. into modern English); 71) Froissart, L'espinette amourouse [This work is not characterized; it is taken as an authentic autobiography. It is in fact a poem in which the details of the speaker's early life may be fictionalized]; 72) The Babee's Book, ed. Furnivall, modified from Edith Rickert's translation [These two excerpts, advice in verse from a woman to her daughter and a man to his son, are taken from a Lambeth MS ca. 1430]; 73) Riley, Memorials of London.

Chapter 9, "Beyond Christendom": 74) The Laws of Valladolid, 1412, 1432; 75) Responses of Rabbi Meir of Rothenburg [not dated (he died in 1293)]; 76) Cairo Geniza: letter of a Jewish merchant [not dated]; 77) Ethical will of Eleazar of Mainz (d. 1357); 78) The Koran; 79) Matthew Paris, English History: Letter from the East sent to Pope Gregory IX; 80) Cathar and anti-Cathar texts