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Married Life in the Middle Ages, 900-1300$
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Elisabeth van Houts

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198798897

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198798897.001.0001

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Living with One or More Partners

Living with One or More Partners

Chapter:
(p.203) 7 Living with One or More Partners
Source:
Married Life in the Middle Ages, 900-1300
Author(s):

Elisabeth van Houts

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198798897.003.0007

This chapter discusses the phenomenon of elite polygyny. It also contains a section on living together in arrangements that were not deemed formal marriages, and there is a brief discussion on Jewish and Muslim relations. Gradual acceptance of emotional ties of love and affection as a binding force in relationships may have helped to reduce the elite polygyny. Elite women supported by clergy raised concerns about elite polygyny. Below the level of the elite it remains extraordinarily difficult to identify who was formally married, in the sense of having been through a process of contract, exchange of wealth, and potentially a blessing. There are glimpses of ‘living together’ arrangements, which to all intents and purposes were stable monogamous sexual relationships even though they were never recognized as marriage by canon law.

Keywords:   elite polygyny, concubinage, living together, mistress, concubine

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