Schmugge, “Marriage on Trial: Late Medieval German Couples at the Papal Court”

This November, The Catholic University of America Press will publish Marriage on Trial: Late Medieval German Couples at the Papal Court by Ludwig Schmugge (President, Scientific Committee of the German Historical Institute, Rome, Italy), translated by Atria A. Larson (The Catholic University of America). The publisher’s description follows.

In the first detailed study of papal penitentiary materials on marriage, renowned medieval historian Ludwig Schmugge tells the exciting stories of seduced maidens, too-closely-related husbands and wives, and thousands of couples who faced lawsuits–all of whom had transgressed marriage law on various grounds in the Middle Ages. This work vividly describes many of the individual cases and offers new insight into the social and legal pressures on marriage in the Middle Ages.

At a time when betrothal, marriage, and sexual morals were strictly subject to the church’s law, petitions from couples abounded. More than two hundred clerics of the penitentiary in the papal curia devoted their time and attention to these petitions alone. With exceptional thoroughness, Schmugge sifted through the thick volumes of registers in the Vatican Secret Archives for his research. Here he presents the exciting, almost unbelievable, and often scandalous fates of these late medieval men and women, while highlighting the important connection between the papal monarchy and the social history of the laity in the later Middle Ages.

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