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Marriage in Medieval Culture: Consent Theory and The Case of Joseph and Mary

  • Irven M. Resnick (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 July 2009

From the second half of the eleventh century, medieval Latin theologians and canonists wrestled with a number of questions related to sexual relations and marriage. Marriage is, characteristically, one of the avenues by which a society—especially a religious or holy community— attempts to define its boundaries. In this effort church authorities had, for centuries, proscribed both marriage and sexual relations between Jews and Christians. They had sought control over marital relations among Christian spouses by proscribing sexual contact before receiving communion, during Lent, or during a woman's pregnancy or menstrual cycle. They had also attempted to eliminate marriage among clergy, with occasional success, as part of an effort to define and control marital unions more effectively.

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Cf. James A. Brundage , “Intermarriage Between Christians and Jews in Medieval Canon Law,” Jewish History 3 (1988): 2540.

See his “Le Mariage dans la théologie et le droit de l'Eglise du XIe au XIIIe siècle,” Cahiers de civilisation médiévale 11 (1968): 191201.

see my “Anselm of Canterbury and Odo of Tournai on the Miraculous Birth of the God-Man,” Mediaeval Studies 58 (1996): 6786.

Cf. Elizabeth M. Makowski , “The Conjugal Debt and Medieval Canon Law,” Journal of Medieval History 3 (1977): 99114.

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Church History
  • ISSN: 0009-6407
  • EISSN: 1755-2613
  • URL: /core/journals/church-history
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