Marriage in Premodern Europe: Italy and Beyond

Edited by Jacqueline Murray - ES27

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The articles in this volume provide an overview of the issues and complexities that informed marriage in the premodern West. They provide a series of interdisciplinary and multicultural analyses of an institution that was fundamental across societies and cultures, but manifested in diverse practices and beliefs. Focusing, in particular, on the Italian peninsula, the articles move outward to include the distant worlds of England and Scotland. Studies of endogamy and exogamy reveal how complex marriage strategies functioned, often in contrast to their intended goals. The articles move from the highest reaches of society, royalty and papacy, to burghers and town dwellers. The richness of sources for the premodern world is explored including legal records, letters, paintings, and literature. Together the articles provide a window onto marriage as a social institution and as a lived experience, at once profoundly other yet curiously familiar.

393 pp.
ISBN: 978-0-7727-2122-8 softcover
Published: 2012


“Strategic, pragmatic, or sociable, even at times affectionate, early modern elite marriages might have many goals, shapes, and consequences, not all of them intended. This interesting volume scouts and illustrates a vast and varied territory of matrimonial doctrines, rules, ideals, practices, and experiences.” — Thomas Cohen, York University

“This fine collection features premodern interdisciplinary scholarship at its best, in service of our understanding of the marital bond, that fundamental yet ever-changing social relationship. The essays in this volume take us from the kingdom of Jerusalem to Scotland, from the poorest inhabitants of Europe to its crowned heads. Anyone interested in premodern European society will want to have this on the shelf.” — Shannon McSheffrey, Concordia University

Renaissance and Reformation/Renaissance et Réforme, 35:4 (2012), pp. 164-166. Reviewed by Barbara J. Todd.

The Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 44:1 (Summer 2013), pp. 116-118. Reviewed by Joanne M. Ferraro.

Renaissance Quarterly, 66:1 (Spring 2013), pp. 302-303. Reviewed by Tovah Bender.


Jacqueline Murray, “Introduction: Marriage in Times of Change”

Women, Men, And Marriage
1. Elena Crislyn Woodacre, “The Queen’s Marriage: Matrimonial Politics in Premodern Europe”
2. Jennifer Mara DeSilva, “‘Personal Rituals’: The Office of Ceremonies and Papal Weddings, 1483-1521”
3. Sally Hickson, “The Compromise Bride: The Marriage of Federico II Gonzaga and Margherita Paleologa of Monferrato”
4. Elena Brizio, “‘Since she was determined to have him for her husband’: A Sienese Woman Who Chose for Herself”
5. Jamie Smith, “Keeping it Together: Women, Marriage, and the Family in Late Fourteenth-Century Genoa”
6. Shennan Hutton, “Mixed Marriages: Family Strategies Across the Noble-Burgher and Rural-Urban Divides”
7. Katalin Prajda, “Florentine Marriage Ties and Business Networks in the Kingdom of Hungary during the Reign of Sigismund of Luxemburg”
8. Ersie Burke, “Our Daughters and Our Future: Elite Greco-Venetian Marriages, 1520-1610”
9. P. Renée Baernstein, “Regional Intermarriage Among the Italian Nobility in the Sixteenth Century”
10. Heather Parker, “The Management of Marriage in Reformation-Era Scotland: The Carnegie Family”
11. Mauro Carboni, “Marriage Strategies and Oligarchy in Early Modern Bologna”

Images and Ideologies
12. Erin J. Campbell, “Old Wives and Art in Early Modern Bologna”
13. Matteo Soranzo, “Poetry and Society in Aragonese Naples: Giovanni Pontano’s Elegies of Married Love”
14. Reinier Leushuis, “‘Col publicamento del matrimonio sgannar ciascuno’: Marriage and Betrothal in Bandello’s Novelle”
15. Lesley Peterson, “Marriage and Monumentalizing in Early Modern English Drama”
16. William E. Smith III, “Anne Wentworth’s Apocalyptic Marriages: Bigamy, Subjectivity, and Religious Conflict”