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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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Clerical Marriages

Clerical Marriages

(p.170) 6 Clerical Marriages
Married Life in the Middle Ages, 900-1300

Elisabeth van Houts

Oxford University Press

This chapter sets out the importance of clerical marriage for a study of married life. Two vignettes introduce the lives of married clergy in Parma (northern Italy) and Paris. Lay and clergy chose marriage as a union within which sexual relations were sanctioned, albeit only for the creation of offspring. Given the vocal opposition of a substantial number of clergy against chaste marriages we must conclude that for these clergy and their wives the sexual aspect of marriage was a compelling one and to be preferred to chaste marriage or celibacy. The married clergy were not afraid to physically defend their right to continue their marriages as sexual unions. A strong incentive may have had its roots in the emotional attachment and love a married priest’s couple may have felt for each other.

Keywords:   clerical marriage, clerical celibacy, the good of marriage, priests’ sons, chaste marriage

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