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Response to Review of Medieval marriage

I thank William E. Smith for his thoughtful review of mine and Ruth Karras's work, and thank also Reviews in History for the opportunity to respond.

I agree with Dr. Smith that it is important to consider together the (legal) remarriage of widows and (illegal) remarriage of those still married to living spouses, as both were often the subject of scorn in pre-modern Christianity. It will indeed be useful for future scholarship to consider the two kinds of remarriage together, but especially if also considered alongside the rules barring entrance into high religious orders for men who had more than one prior spouse (as found in my book, pp. 19–25).

On the subject of the ‘crisis of marriage’, I do see a crisis brewing when laypeople made bigamous marriages for themselves, regardless of the law, but one that only really became a crisis when there was a judicial response to the behaviour. People remarried in similar ways in other parts of Europe at the same time – in Verona, as Emlyn Eisenach demonstrates – but there was no crisis there until secular or church authorities acted to repress the behaviour.  In that sense the crisis arrived in Verona, for example, only in 1520, with a reforming bishop. The transformation in marriage law and practice found at the turn of the 16th century, and particularly the various crises that emerged as both ordinary men and women and church and secular authorities came to care so deeply about how they married, unquestionably merits further study.