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Causes Of Marital Tension

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Chapter Summary

This chapter explores the records of the king’s courts together with exempla from the period, which indicate that adultery by wives may have provided sound justification for homicide, not only of the wives’ lovers, but perhaps even of those wives who threatened good governance most by bearing another man’s child. Economic deprivation and insanity were also causes of spousal abuse. Marital disharmony generally does not resolve itself. While the laity and the church involved themselves in the marriages of others in the hopes of eliminating the causes of marital tension, this solution was not wholly successful. The courts of the medieval church dedicated themselves to reconciling separated couples at almost any cost. Undoubtedly, this approach caused more marital tension than it resolved. An examination of the causes of marital tension offers mixed messages about the role played by the church in the regulation of medieval marriages.

Keywords: economic deprivation; marital disharmony; marital tension; medieval church; medieval marriages; spousal abuse



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