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MARRIAGE, PEACE, AND ENMITY IN THE TWELFTH CENTURY

MARRIAGE, PEACE, AND ENMITY IN THE TWELFTH CENTURY As is well known, marriage was frequently employed as an instrument of diplomatic policy in premodern Europe. Dynastic leaders used the marriages of their own family members to create or confirm alliances with other ruling houses. Peace was often the aim and the outcome of such agreements, but the reality of marital politics was far more complicated. Arranging a marriage could be a statement of enmity by two families toward a third party. Attempts to dissolve or prevent marriages already arranged by one's rivals amounted to viable political tactics. During the twelfth century, as rules around the formation and dissolution of Christian marriage were in flux, opportunities for manipulation of accepted practices abounded. This article examines a series of marriages between members of the Anglo-Norman and Angevin ruling families, focusing especially on the reign of Henry I (1100–35), to demonstrate the complexity of marital practices and their links to peace and war. Literary works of the age, notably Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae , offer further cultural perspectives on the nature of political marriages. Whereas short-term tactical considerations meant that marriages were often tied to episodes of conflict and rivalry, from a longer-term perspective the usefulness of marriage as a means of securing and maintaining peace remained an important element of premodern diplomacy. peace marriage diplomacy Henry I Geoffrey of Monmouth http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Common Knowledge Duke University Press

MARRIAGE, PEACE, AND ENMITY IN THE TWELFTH CENTURY

Common Knowledge , Volume 22 (2) – May 1, 2016

MARRIAGE, PEACE, AND ENMITY IN THE TWELFTH CENTURY


To claim that marriages at the upper levels of premodern societies were arranged for purposes of diplomacy, peacemaking, and economic gain may appear so obvious that it hardly needs stating. Nonetheless, the value of marriage as a tool of policy merits further examination. Several earlier items in the current symposium have referred, in passing, to the institution of dynastic marriage as a fundamental resource of peacemakers both in the premodern West and in the non-Western world.1 The assumption appears to be that uniting representatives from two warring parties in a powerfully symbolic bond could be enough to overcome earlier hatreds or at least to represent and embody a peace agreement already reached. The realities of dynastic marriage in premodern Europe, however, were rather complicated. My aim here is simply to point out that we cannot assume uniformly positive ambitions among those negotiating marital alliances, let alone uniformly positive outcomes, even while I wish to reinforce the view that the personal and family connections encapsulated by individual marriages could serve as guarantors of peace in certain circumstances. 1. James C. Scott, quoted in Jeffrey M. Perl, "Introduction: The Undivided Big Banana," 20, no. 3 (2014): 415, and Perl, "Introduction: Greco-Latin Findings," 21, no. 1 (2015): 11. 22:2 DOI 10.1215/0961754X-3464935 © 2016 by Duke University Press Published by Duke University Press Nowhere is the topic more relevant than in the twelfth-century European context. During this period, the rules of Christian marriage and their practical application in secular society were in flux, with an assertive papacy demanding the right to impose its vision of appropriate marital practices onto aristocratic families. In particular, a severe restriction on endogamous unions--those within seven degrees of relationship--remained in place until relaxed by Innocent III at the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215. So impractical was this...
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Duke University Press
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Copyright © Duke Univ Press
ISSN
0961-754X
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1538-4578
DOI
10.1215/0961754X-3464935
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Abstract

As is well known, marriage was frequently employed as an instrument of diplomatic policy in premodern Europe. Dynastic leaders used the marriages of their own family members to create or confirm alliances with other ruling houses. Peace was often the aim and the outcome of such agreements, but the reality of marital politics was far more complicated. Arranging a marriage could be a statement of enmity by two families toward a third party. Attempts to dissolve or prevent marriages already arranged by one's rivals amounted to viable political tactics. During the twelfth century, as rules around the formation and dissolution of Christian marriage were in flux, opportunities for manipulation of accepted practices abounded. This article examines a series of marriages between members of the Anglo-Norman and Angevin ruling families, focusing especially on the reign of Henry I (1100–35), to demonstrate the complexity of marital practices and their links to peace and war. Literary works of the age, notably Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae , offer further cultural perspectives on the nature of political marriages. Whereas short-term tactical considerations meant that marriages were often tied to episodes of conflict and rivalry, from a longer-term perspective the usefulness of marriage as a means of securing and maintaining peace remained an important element of premodern diplomacy. peace marriage diplomacy Henry I Geoffrey of Monmouth

Journal

Common KnowledgeDuke University Press

Published: May 1, 2016

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