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The Medieval Family

Seminar and Essay Questions

  • How restricted was the role of women in medieval society?
  • How and why did attitudes towards marriage change in the middle ages?
  • Was there any place for affection in medieval family life?


Introductory Reading

Barber, The Two Cities, 41-43

Bartlett, The Making of Europe. No readings.

Herlihy, David, Women, Family and Society in Medieval Europe (New York, 1995), Chapters 4, 7, and 11.

Power, The Central Middle Ages, 47-54

Waley and Denley, Later Medieval Europe, 295-309


Further Reading

Alberti, L. B., The Family in Renaissance Florence, trans. R.N. Watkins (Columbia, SC, 1969)

Ariès, Philippe, Centuries of Childhood, trans. Robert Baldick (London, 1962)

Atkinson, C. W., The Oldest Vocation: Christian Motherhood in the Middle Ages (Ithaca, NY, 1991)

Beattie, Cordelia, 'Gender and Femininity in Medieval England', in Writing Medieval
History, ed. Nancy Partner (London: Hodder Arnold, 2005), pp.153–70.

Bennett, H.S., The Pastons and their England, 2nd ed. (London, 1968)

Bennett, Judith M. and Shannon McSheffrey, 'Early, Erotic and Alien: Women Dressed
as Men in Late Medieval London' History Workshop Journal 77 (2014), pp. 1–25.

Bennett, Judith and Ruth Karras (eds), The Oxford Handbook of Women and Gender in Medieval Europe (Oxford University Press: Oxford, 2013)

Brooke, Christopher, The Medieval Idea of Marriage (Oxford, 1989)

Brown, Judith C., and Davis, Robert, (eds), Gender and Society in Renaissance Italy (Harlow, 1998)

Brucker, Gene, Giovanni and Lusanna: Love and Marriage in Renaissance Florence (Berkeley, 1986, 2nd ed 2005)

Brundage, James A., Law, Sex and Christian Society in Medieval Europe (1987).

Chojnacki, Stanley, Women and Men in Renaissance Venice (Baltimore, 2000)

Cohn, Samuel K., Jr., Women in the Streets: Essays on Sex and Power in Renaissance Italy (Baltimore and London, 1996)

de Pizan, Christine, Selected Writings, ed. Renate Blumenfeld-Kosinski (New York, 1997) [A useful collection of primary sources]

Dean, Trevor, Crime in Medieval Europe, 1200-1550 (London, 2001)

Dronke, Peter, Women Writers of the Middle Ages: A Critical Study of Texts from Perpetua (d. 203) to Marguerite Porete (d. 1310) (Cambridge, 1984)

Duby, Georges, Love and Marriage in the Middle Ages, trans. Jane Dunnett (Cambridge, 1994)

Duby, Georges, The Knight, the Lady, and the Priest, trans. Barbara Bray (London, 1983)

Ennen, Edith, The Medieval Woman (Blackwell, 1989)

Goldberg, P.J.P. (ed. and trans.), Women in England c. 1275-1525 (Manchester, 1995) [A useful collection of documents]

Hadley, D.M. (ed.), Masculinity in Medieval Europe (Harlow, 1999)

Hanawalt, Barbara, ‘Golden Ages for the History of Medieval English Women’,in Women in Medieval History and Historiography, ed. S. Mosher Stuart (Philadelphia, 1987), pp. 1–24.

Herlihy, David, and Klapisch-Zuber, Christiane, The Tuscans and their Families (New Haven, 1985)

Irigaray, Luce, This Sex Which is Not One (Itaca, NY, 1985)

Karras, Ruth Mazo, and David Lorenzo Boyd, 'Ut Cum Muliere': A Male transvestite prostitute in fourteenth century London' in Kim M. Phillips and Barry Reay (eds), Sexualities in History: A reader (London,1996)

Karras, Ruth Mazo, Unmarriages: Women, Men and Sexual Unions in the Middle Ages (2012).

Karras, Ruth Mazo, Sexuality in Medieval Europe: Doing unto others (2005).

Karras, Ruth Mazo, Common Women: Prostitution and Sexuality in Medieval England (1998).

Karras, Ruth Mazo, 'Knighthood, Compulsory Heterosexuality, and Sodomy' in The Boswell Thesis: Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality, Mathew Kuefler (ed.), (University of California Press, 2005), pp.273-86.
Kent, F.W., Household and Lineage in Renaissance Florence (Princeton, 1977)

Kirshner, J., and S. Wemple (eds.), Women of the Medieval World (Oxford, 1985)

Klapisch-Zuber, Christiane, Women, Family, and Ritual in Renaissance Italy (Chicago, 1985)

Le Roy Ladurie, Emmanuel, Montaillou, trans. Barbara Bray (London, 1978)

Leyser, H., Medieval Women: A Social History of Women in England, 450-1500 (London, 1995)

McDougall, Sara, Royal Bastards: The Birth of Illegitimacy, 800-1230 (OUP, 2016)

Macfarlane, Alan, The Origins of English Individualism (Oxford, 1978)

Mate, Mavis E., Women in Medieval English society (Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 1999)

McCarthy, Conor, (ed. and trans.), Love, Sex and Marriage in the Middle AgesSex and Marriage in the Middle Ages: A Sourcebook (London, 2004)

Paterson, Linda, 'Gender Negotiations in France during the Central Middle Ages: The Literary Evidence', in P. Linehan and J. Nelson (eds), The Medieval World (London, 2001), pp. 246-66.

Rocke, Michael, Forbidden Friendships: Homosexuality and Male Culture in Renaissance Florence (New York, 1996)

Sauer, Michelle, Gender in Medieval Culture (London: Bloomsbury, 2015)

Shahar, Shulamith, Childhood in the Middle Ages (London, 1990)

Shahar, Shulamith, The Fourth Estate: A History of Women in the Middle Ages, rev. ed. (London, 2003)

Strozzi, Alessandra, Selected Letters, ed. and trans. Heather Gregory (Berkeley, 1997)

Ward, Jennifer C., English Noblewomen in the Later Middle Ages (London, 1992)