Arlene Sindelar's review of Shannon McSheffrey, Marriage, Sex, and Civic Culture in Late Medieval London (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006) has appeared on H-Law. It begins: Shannon McSheffrey introduces her study of marriage and governance in laterfifteenth-century London with a particularly dramatic vignette in which anirate father attempted to force a young man he claimed "violated" his daughterto marry her then and there at home. He employed every weapon available in hisarsenal: the weight of his own authority expressed through righteous anger andphysical violence; his daughter's shame and angry disappointment; and thethreat of a ruined reputation by denouncing him before the mayor and aldermen(p. 1-2). It is a particularly well-chosen story, weaving together all theissues McSheffrey subsequently unravels in her well-researched and rewardingbook: patriarchal authority and canon law, reputation and honor, socialpressure and civic culture. She argues that although both marriage and sexualrelationships were the intimate personal concern of the two participants, theywere also matters of public concern in which relatives, friends, civic officials, and parish priests all felt a responsibility to intervene.
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