Medieval Monogamy

  title={Medieval Monogamy},
  author={Laura Betzig},
  journal={Journal of Family History},
  pages={181 - 216}
  • L. Betzig
  • Published 1 October 1995
  • History
  • Journal of Family History
Was polygyny stopped by the Christian Church? Probably not. In the Middle Ages, as in other ages, powerful men married monogamously, but mated polygynously. Both laymen and church men tended to have sexual access to as many women as they could afford. But first-born sons were allowed a legitimate wife, on whom they got legitimate heirs. And latter-born sons were often celibate—that is, ineligible to sire heirs, though not chaste—that is, ineligible to sire bastards. Church men, like laymen… 

Runaway Wives: Husband Desertion in Medieval England

With an acutely imbalanced power relationship, no financial control, and a Marian ideal of total passivity flaunted before them, wives are usually thought to have borne the brunt of medieval

A Note on Religion

  • L. Betzig
  • History
    Evolutionary psychology : an international journal of evolutionary approaches to psychology and behavior
  • 2021
At the beginning of this era, after a battle on the Ionian Sea, Antony and Cleopatra took their own lives in Egypt, and Augustus was made an imperator by his senators, and Europe was ruled over by a few.

The jus primae noctis as a male power display. A review of historic sources with evolutionary interpretation.

  • Wettlaufer
  • Psychology
    Evolution and human behavior : official journal of the Human Behavior and Evolution Society
  • 2000

To reconstruction of the historical background and nature of the prostitution and adultery

Socialist Edward Fuchs in the early twentieth century, in his book on the Renaissance manners, considered monogamy in the conditions of full patriarchy the main reason for the emergence of two social

The rise of monogamy

Why has polygyny, marriage of a man to multiple women, common in most societies throughout history, almost disappeared in modern industrialized countries? Do women play a role in its disappearance? A

Priestly Wives: The Role and Acceptance of Clerics' Concubines in the Parishes of Late Medieval Catalunya

Travelling through the foothills of the Pyrenees, the episcopal visitor Guerau Caluet arrived in the parish of Sant Martí de la Vajol on an autumn day in 1314. As in so many parishes visited on his

The Mystery of Monogamy

We examine why developed societies are monogamous while rich men throughout history have typically practiced polygyny. Wealth inequality naturally produces multiple wives for rich men in a standard

Christian Monogamy, What’s That?

Abstract Monogamy and polygamy are often considered to be a binary pair. Yet this binary is only possible under very particular conditions. This essay explores those conditions which are elided in

The mystery of polygamy

The economic literature on marriage identifies a number of benefits of marriage and discusses mechanisms that cause societies to prefer certain marital structures such as polygamy or monogamy. In



Law, sex, and Christian society in medieval Europe

This monumental study of medieval law and sexual conduct explores the origin and develpment of the Christian church's sex law and the systems of belief upon which that law rested. Focusing on the

The Family and Religious Ideologies in Medieval Europe

The medieval Christian Church was slow in developing a comprehensive theology or canon law of marriage, but it did establish certain principles of great significance in social life. Sexual morality

Consanguinity and Noble Marriages in the Tenth and Eleventh Centuries

The reaction of the French nobility to the church's definition of incest as residing within "seven forbidden degrees" is explored and it is demonstrated that, at least in the tenth and eleventh centuries, powerful nobles gave serious attention to consanguinity when arranging their children's marriages.

Polygyny and Inheritance of Wealth

Polygamy is contrary to the Law of Nature and Justice, and to the Propagation of the Human Race; for where Males and Females are in equal number, if one Man takes Twenty Wives, Nineteen Men must live

The Ties That Bind: Peasant Families in Medieval England

The Private Life of Chairman Mao: The Memoirs of Mao's Personal Physician

For the first time, here is the extraordinary true story of one of the most powerful men, and ruthless dictators, who ever lived. Mao Zedong had control over more people for a longer period than any

Women in Frankish society : marriage and the cloister, 500 to 900

Women in Frankish Society is a careful and thorough study of women and their roles in the Merovingian and Carolingian periods of the Middle Ages. During the 5th through 9th centuries, Frankish

Love And Marriage In The Middle Ages

Preeminent medieval scholar, George Duby, argues that the structure of sexual relationships took its cue from the family and from feudalism - both bastions of masculinity - as he reveals the role of