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Marriage and the Family in the Middle Ages

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  296 Ratings  ·  15 Reviews
A compelling, lucid, and highly readable chronicle of medieval life written by the authors of the bestselling Life in a Medieval Castle and Life in a Medieval City
Historians have only recently awakened to the importance of the family, the basic social unit throughout human history. This book traces the development of marriage and the family from the Middle Ages to the earl
Paperback, 384 pages
Published December 14th 1988 by Harper Perennial (first published 1987)
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Chronicling the subject from the end of the Roman Era to the Black Death, this is amongst the longest of the Gies works. Nevertheless, it is well worth the read, not just for those interested in Social History, but also for the more general reader- such is the appeal of these authors.

The chronological approach makes it relatively easy to find what you might be looking for, and looking at examples from across Europe and the social specturum gives a more well-rounded approach.

There are some- sur
Adrian G.
Dec 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The Gies know how to write a history book for the non-historian, without seeming shallow. "Marriage and Family in the Middle Ages" aprsies readers of the major workings and much minutae of family life in the middle ages, and does not shy away from comparing peasant life to noble life. As you explore the changes in quality of life since the fall of Rome up to the comparative richness of the Late Middle Ages, you may see an analog of your own countries creation. The book also clarifies the shiftin ...more
Jun 13, 2007 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: extremely dedicated book-finishers, or matrimony fetishists
Recommended to Doug by: The authors, through their excellent technilogical history of th
Shelves: couldnt-finish
I'm going on a year now since I've turned a page on this.

My original motivation was to study up on marriage, when all the gay marriage news was happening in Massechussetts and then in San Francisco, Canada and Hawaii.

In the meanwhile I finished "Sense and Sensibility", and between that and trying to ask someone to marry me (which unlike Jane Austen, was a complete failure), I think I'm a little burned out on marriage for now.

By the way, I did see a conversation about "equal marriage" on Facebook
Lauren Albert
May 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history-european
An easy to read discussion of the subject of family in the Middle Ages. Because so many other institutions and cultural matters intertwine with that of family life, it can occasionally seem like you're being pulled off topic in discussions on things like land ownership and the Black Death. But they are all crucial to an understanding of family. Of particular note (and which I really liked) was their starting the book with discussions of the Roman, German and Christian "roots" of Middle Age famil ...more
J C Landwer
Oct 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If wanting to understand the mindset of Europeans during the Early and High Middle Ages, of their fears and hopes for themselves and their family members, you'll find this book of great value. As a reading supplement in Humanities classes, the book brings a relevance that students can identify with as they explore and contrast family values within their own sphere of experience. Well written and timeless (ignore the pub date).
Dec 20, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: history, medieval
The Gies offer reliable history, a bit too meta-study-quotey at times, but solid info in readable prose. And such interesting information to think about in light of both Medieval history and modern life and assumptions! No match for Georges Duby but still interesting, although at times I'd like to draw my own conclusions about the data instead of being led a bit patronizingly to the Gies's.
Michael Barnette
Aug 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone interested in medieval studies
I really enjoy reading books by the Gies and this book was no exception. This husband and wife team convey their love of history and their style is wonderful and accessible rather than being a cut and dried listing of dates and facts.

I highly recommend all their books to anyone interested in medieval studies or who plan to write historic fiction. You cannot go wrong with any of their well researched titles.
Erik Graff
Apr 05, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Gies fans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
I picked this one up at a bookstore in Denver when stuck in town there for two weeks while in the process of moving the Ares Press, my previous employer, from Chicago to Golden, Colorado. I read most of it at the Paris on the Platte Cafe with coworker, Robyn Canning. I finished it out of sheer willpower and for lack of any alternative because it was rather boring.

Sarah -
May 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: middle-ages
Informative and easy to read. I like the specific focus on different families the ought Europe. Interesting also to see the comparison from the Romans and barbarians to what marriage and family evolved into.
Not the most exciting nor groundbreaking read, but a pleasantly thorough background of things I probably should have already known. It worked very well as an audiobook; the Gies tend to repeat their points, which I think I would have found frustrating in print but as background reading was perfect.
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Frances and and her husband Joseph Gies were historians and writers who collaborated on a number of books about the Middle Ages as well as wrote individual works.
More about Frances Gies...