Reordering Marriage and Society in Reformation Germany

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Combining extensive archival research and a broad array of scholarly monographs, Harrington presents us with the clearest and most comprehensive evaluation of the Reformation's impact on marriage currently available. To assess fairly the degree of Protestant innovation, he compares reformers' goals and achievements for marriage to those of contemporary Catholics. All sixteenth century campaigns to restore "traditional family values," Harrington argues, must first be viewed in the context of much more gradual social transformations of private morality, public authority, and familial relations. Seen from this perspective, the apparent innovations of Protestants in marriage - including the abolition of clerical celibacy and introduction of divorce - fade in comparison to their much greater adherence to the theological, legal, and social traditions they share with their Catholic ancestors and contemporaries. All more ambitious attempts by Protestant authorities to alter marital and sexual relations during the sixteenth century similarly met with wide-spread popular resistance. In his detailed comparison of marriage formation and sexual discipline among Lutherans, Calvinists, and Catholics of the Rhineland Palatinate, Harrington concludes that local custom and authority continued to prevail over all religiously inspired innovation.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"...this well-documented, convincingly-argued book shows the aims of both religious and secular reformers in both Protestant and Catholic territories to have been conservative in nature, committed to enforcing the view of marriage that had been developing for centuries." Laurel Carrington, The American Journal of Legal History

"...intelligently conceived and well executed....this is a very good book." The Catholic Historical Review

"...a first-rate book on marriage and the control of sexuality in sixteenth-century Germany, solidly based on both published and archival important contribution to scholarship, showing the conjunction among social, religious, and legal history." Journal of Social History

"Harrington's account of the convergence of Catholic and Protestant reform of marriage is generally persuasive....[his] book is a solid addition to the growing literature on ideas and social practices in the Reformation era." Central European History

" excellent summation of the history of ecclesiastical doctrine—theological and legal—from the twelfth to the sixteenth century... Its analysis of the literature on marriage—both scholarly and contemporary—is masterful." Sixteenth Century Journal

"This is an ambitious study...densely researched...clear and even-handed...This element alone is an important service to field; that this study goes further and challenges scholars to widen the context of the discussion of marriage is praiseworthy and important." The Historian

"Harrington draws on extensive archival studies and an impressive mastery of the vast secondary literature. Sophisticated scholarly apparatus." Choice

" both illuminates an important aspect of the history of the family and reveals how much of its complex and multi-faceted history remains to be explored." Times Literary Supplement

"Joel Harrington has done both specialists and nonspecialists a great service by providing a book-length study that deserves to be read by a wide audience, including those interested in parts of the world well beyond Reformation Germany." Journal of the History of Sexuality

"For scholars interested in the family history of the sixteenth century. Joel Harrington's new book is a must-read. In a highly contentious field, Harrington has produced a work as provocative as any of its predecessors." Benjamin Kaplan, The Journal of Modern History

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521464833
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 1/27/1995
  • Pages: 333
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Table of Contents

List of tables and figures
Introduction 1
The historiographical perspective 3
The geographical perspective 17
Pt. I The Nature and Origins of Sixteenth-Century Marriage Reform
1 Marriage reform and reformers 25
Marital and social disorder 27
Reordering marriage and society 38
2 Marriage and the Church: The ideological reformation 48
The formation of Christian marriage doctrine and law 50
The Protestant ideal of marriage 59
Protestant and Catholic legal revisions 84
3 Marriage and the state: The bureaucratic reformation 101
Marriage jurisdiction during the Middle Ages 105
Expansion of state bureaucracies and jurisdictions 118
The limitations of state expansion 134
Pt. II The Social Impact of Sixteenth-Century Marriage Reform
4 In loco parentis: Public approval of private consent 169
Consensualist threats to traditional authority 171
Secular and ecclesiastical "restoration" of traditional authority 180
Private consent and public approval in the patriarchal age 197
5 "Against the marriage-devil": Sexual discipline and domestic stability 215
Prevention 217
Prosecution 224
Preservation 260
Conclusions 273
Appendix on sources 279
Bibliography 284
Index 305
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