Medieval Lives: Birth, Marriage, Death

A Good Marriage

Season 1, Episode 2 of 3

Unlike birth and death, which are inescapable facts of life, marriage is a rite of passage made by choice and in the Middle Ages it wasn't just a choice made by bride and groom - they were often the last pieces in a puzzle, put together by their parents according to rules laid down by the church. Helen Castor reveals how in the Middle Ages marriage was actually an easy process. One could get married in a pub or even a field simply by exchanging words of consent. From the 12th century onward, the Catholic Church tried to control this conjugal free-for-all. For the church marriage was a way to contain the troubling issue of sex, but, as the film reveals, it was not easy to impose rules on the most unpredictable human emotions of love and lust.

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