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Papacy, Monarchy and Marriage 860–1600
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Book description

This analysis of royal marriage cases across seven centuries explains how and how far popes controlled royal entry into and exits from their marriages. In the period between c.860 and 1600, the personal lives of kings became the business of the papacy. d'Avray explores the rationale for papal involvement in royal marriages and uses them to analyse the structure of church-state relations. The marital problems of the Carolingian Lothar II, of English kings - John, Henry III, and Henry VIII - and other monarchs, especially Spanish and French, up to Henri IV of France and La Reine Margot, have their place in this exploration of how canon law came to constrain pragmatic political manoeuvring within a system increasingly rationalised from the mid-thirteenth century on. Using documents presented in the author's Dissolving Royal Marriages, the argument brings out hidden connections between legal formality, annulments, and dispensations, at the highest social level.


'Scholars not interested in marriage specifically can also learn a great deal from this volume, because one of d'Avray's most important arguments concerns not the formation and de-formation of royal marriages but rather the nature of historical cause and effect. Taking from Quentin Skinner the lesson that 'we do not need to be sure about sincerity before we estimate the effects of principles on actions' … he demonstrates that a certain cynicism about papal motivations is not incompatible with taking seriously the legal and theological ideas and the rhetoric they used to justify their decisions. Legal formality in both the annulment and dispensation process served the papacy well.'

Ruth Mazo Karras Source: The Catholic Historical Review

'Elegantly and tightly written. … likely to remain definitive for years to come.'

Charles Donahue, Jr Source: The Journal of Ecclesiastical History

'Reveals clearly the structural and legalistic details of the give-and-take employed by the monarchies and high nobility, on the one hand, and by the papacy, on the other, during the Middle Ages … will be of interest to historians and anthropologists who are concerned with the sociology of the relationship between church and state during the Middle Ages and the early modern period in Western Europe.'

Uta-Renate Blumenthal Source: The American Historical Review

'Medieval marriages have been subject to a huge amount of scholarship. … Therefore one could ask, is there really need and space for yet another monograph of this … topic or can someone still find something that has not already been said by others? I would be tempted to answer those questions negatively but the book written by Professor David d’Avray from University College London proves my answer wrong … This book … is a welcome resource for university teaching because it deals with the most famous medieval marriage troubles and especially because it offers English translations of numerous documents otherwise accessible only in Latin editions … It offers a lot of new thinking also for experts on medieval marriages, marriage legislation, or medieval papacy.'

Kirsi Salonen Source: Speculum

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Note: For the bibliographically complicated École Française de Rome calendars of papal registers I have been guided by the form adopted by Thomas Frenz and Sergio Pagano, I documenti pontifici nel medioevo e nell'età moderna (Vatican City, 1998), pp. 104–5, which provides a complete list.

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