History, Department of


Date of this Version

Fall 2001


Published in Renaissance Quarterly, Vol. 54, No. 3 (Autumn, 2001), pp. 973-975 Copyright © 2001 Renaissance Society of America; published by The University of Chicago Press. Used by permission.


There have been a number of books and articles in the last decade that focus on family and marriage, including courtship, in early modern England or on the negotiations of specific marriages. Many of these studies were written in response to the pioneering but often controversial work by Lawrence Stone. Literary scholars, such as Catherine Bates and Ilona Bell, and historians such as Barbara Harris, Sara Mendelson and Patricia Crawford, Eric Carlson, Alan MacFarlane, and Ralph Houlbrooke have brought a variety of view points and much more subtlety to the whole discussion. The two books under review here, Courtship and Constraint and The Marrying of Anne of Cleves, both demonstrate the serious scholarship and new insights into this growing field.

The major theme of O'Hara's study is to examine the social, cultural, and economic aspects of sixteenth-century courtship. O'Hara's research is thorough and she gives many examples to support her assertions. O'Hara states that her study is not directly concerned with how the religious and political changes of the sixteenth century influenced courtship. Warnicke's study, however, is clearly concerned with religious and political change and connects the two very different meanings of the word court.

Both Courtship and Constraint and The Marrying of Anne of Cleves are first rate historical studies, each of which should gain a wide readership.

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