Divorce in Medieval England

From One to Two Persons in Law

By Sara M. Butler

© 2013 – Routledge

200 pages

Purchasing Options:
Paperback: 9781138904002
pub: 2015-02-27
US Dollars$44.95
Hardback: 9780415825160
pub: 2013-03-11
US Dollars$145.00

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About the Book

Divorce in Medieval England is intended to reorient scholarly perceptions concerning divorce in the medieval period. Divorce, as we think of it today, is usually considered to be a modern invention. This book challenges that viewpoint, documenting the many and varied uses of divorce in the medieval period and highlighting the fact that couples regularly divorced on the grounds of spousal incompatibility. Because the medieval church was determined to uphold the sacrament of marriage whenever possible, divorce in the medieval period was a much more complicated process than it is today. Thus, this book steps readers through the process of divorce, including: grounds for divorce, the fundamentals of the process, the risks involved, financial implications for wives who were legally disabled thanks to the rules of coverture, the custody and support of children, and finally, what happens after a divorce. Readers will gain a much greater appreciation of marriage and women’s position in later medieval England.

Table of Contents

Introduction. 1. "Why Did They Leave?" 2. "The Logistics of Divorce" 3. "The Risk Factor" 4. "Whose Property is Whose?" 5. "What Happened to the Children?" 6. "What Happened Next?". Conclusions.

About the Author

Sara M. Butler is Associate Professor of Medieval History at Loyola University New Orleans. Her first book was The Language of Abuse: Marital Violence in Later Medieval England (2007). She has published also on suicide, violence against children, abortion, and medical practitioners at law.

About the Series

Routledge Research in Medieval Studies

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
FAMILY & RELATIONSHIPS / Divorce & Separation
HISTORY / Medieval
HISTORY / Social History