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Published in American Historical Review, Vol. 96, No. 2 (April, 1991), p. 489 Copyright © 1991 American Historical Association; published by The University of Chicago Press. Used by permission.


Christopher N. L. Brooke's study serves as a fine complement and counterpoint to Georges Duby's The Knight, the Lady and the Priest: The Making of Marriage in Medieval France (1983). Duby's innovative study looked at aristocratic marriage in medieval France within both a political and a religious and social and economic framework. Brooke, who has had a long career as a medievalist, has produced a more personal statement about his research into the meaning of marriage in the Middle Ages. There are two recurrent questions in Brooke's study: what is marriage, and is Christian marriage something different in its nature from other relationships? ... Brooke's study is an elegantly written evocative essay that uses a wide variety of sources and focuses on some perhaps idiosyncratic people and texts as examples of a larger construct of what the medieval idea of marriage really was. Experts in the field will probably not learn too much here that is new to them, but Brooke has provided a useful, gracefully written, and highly scholarly synthesis that will be particularly valuable to scholars and students of the period.

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