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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of History, Classics and Archaeology : Postgraduate (History, Classics and Archaeology)

Postgraduate Course: Debating Marriage Between Antiquity and the Middle Ages (online) (PGHC11481)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
Course typeOnline Distance Learning AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course examines how and why ideals and practices of marriage in later Roman and post-Roman societies shifted between c.400 and c.1000. Focussing on a range of primary sources, students will gain a detailed understanding of how marriage was contested, disputed and transformed in this period, and will carefully examine the social, political and religious contexts of these developments. Students will also critically examine strikingly different ways in which historians have debated the evolution of marriage, gender, family and kinship within grand narratives of the transition from antiquity to the middle ages.
Course description In the fifth century a pope presented with a tricky marriage dispute could take it for granted that slaves could not marry. In a society deeply shaped by Roman law, married slaves were legally unintelligible. Fast forward to the ninth century and bishops were cautiously protecting the rights of unfree people to marry (so long as their masters consented). Something was shifting. The slow emergence of unfree marriage as a legal and social possibility is one facet of the broader evolution of marriage across late antiquity and the early middle ages. This course examines the history of marriage and related topics, including gender, family and kinship, in western Europe between c.400 and c.1000. Students will root important changes and continuities in ideals and practices of marriage in the shifting social, religious and political landscape of the post-Roman world. Drawing on a range of primary sources, students will closely examine how the place of marriage in church, royal courts and wider society was vigorously debated; and critically examine historiographical debates over the significance of marriage, gender, family and kinship in understanding the transition from antiquity to the middle ages.

The opening weeks introduce three tectonic plates in the history of medieval marriage: legal regulations and social norms in classical and late Roman society; tense debates over the place of marriage within late antique Christianity; and 'Germanic' or 'barbarian' customs surrounding marriage and kinship.

Thereafter, subsequent seminars explore the new configurations created - and, sometimes, the friction generated - as these tectonic plates shifted in post-Roman societies. Key themes include: legal regulations in theory and social norms in practice; marriage, gender and sexuality in pastoral practice; married sexuality, sanctity and lay piety; clerical marriage; incest regulations and spiritual kinship (godparenthood); royal/aristocratic marriage disputes and the politics of sexuality; marriage and social status.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Students MUST NOT also be taking Debating Marriage between Antiquity and the Middle Ages (PGHC11449)
Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. demonstrate in-depth, detailed and critical command of the body of knowledge considered in the course;
  2. analyse and reflect critically upon relevant scholarship, primary source materials, and conceptual approaches considered in the course;
  3. understand and apply specialised research or professional skills, techniques and practices considered in the course;
  4. develop and sustain original scholarly arguments in oral and written form, by independently formulating appropriate questions and utilising relevant evidence;
  5. demonstrate originality and independence of mind and initiative; intellectual integrity and maturity; an ability to evaluate the work of others, including peers; and a considerable degree of autonomy.
Reading List
Peter Brown, The Body and Society: Men, Women, and Sexual Renunciation in Early Christianity (New York, 1988)

Kate Cooper, The Fall of the Roman Household (Cambridge, 2007)

David d'Avray, Papacy, Monarchy and Marriage, 860-1600 (Cambridge, 2015)

Judith Evans Grubb, Law and Family in Late Antiquity: Emperor Constantine's Marriage Legislation (Oxford, 1995)

Kyle Harper, From Shame to Sin: The Christian Transformation of Sexual Morality in Late Antiquity (Cambridge, Mass., 2013)

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

Sara McDougall, Royal Bastards: The Birth of Illegitimacy, 800-1230 (Oxford, 2017)

Philip L. Reynolds, Marriage in the Western Church: The Christianization of Marriage during the Patristic and Early Medieval Periods (Leiden, 1994)

Rachel Stone, Morality and Masculinity in the Carolingian Empire (Cambridge, 2011)

Rachel Stone and Charles West, The Divorce of King Lothar and Queen Theutberga: Hincmar of Rheims's De Divortio (Manchester, 2016)

Susan Treggiari, Roman Marriage: Iusti Coniuges from the Time of Cicero to the Time of Ulpian (Oxford, 1991)

Suzanne F. Wemple, Women in Frankish Society: Marriage and the Cloister, 500 to 900 (Philadelphia, 1981)
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Zubin Mistry
Course secretaryMrs Lindsay Scott
Tel: (0131 6)50 9948
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