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Title: The Romance of Law and Love: Marriage in Twelfth-Century German Romance
Authors: Martin, Jonathan Seelye
Advisors: Poor, Sara S
Contributors: German Department
Keywords: consent
Hartmann von Aue
Heinrich von Veldeke
law and literature
marriage law
Subjects: Medieval literature
German literature
Issue Date: 2018
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This dissertation examines the connections between medieval marriage law and courtly romance. It argues that medieval romance functions as an integral part of the medieval legal system, and that it promulgated and promoted a certain ideology of marriage through the newly vigorous enforcement of various marriage laws in the canon law of the Church, namely: that the consent of both bride and groom is necessary for a marriage to be legally valid; that both husband and wife are to some extent equal in marriage; and that a marriage, once consented to, cannot lawfully be dissolved. The most important of these new laws is the concept of consent (consensus), upon which the other two also rely. Vernacular courtly romance played an important role in spreading this new ideology of consent, partial spousal equality, and indissolubility among the laity. At the same time, this dissertation examines the ways in which five medieval romances examine these laws in a manner resembling jurisprudence: medieval romance enables a more systematic way of thinking about the law than the previously mostly oral vernacular legal culture of the Middle Ages. I argue for this understanding of romance’s role by using André Jolles’ concept of the case (Kasus) as a simple form of literature: the “case” tests a law or rule against some higher principle such as justice. The romances examined in this dissertation can be shown to incorporate specific laws associated with the new ideology of marriage into their overall structure as “cases.” The dissertation can be broadly divided into two parts: the first part, consisting of two chapters, explores the role of consent in Heinrich von Veldeke’s Eneasroman, Eilhart von Oberg’s Tristrant, and Otte’s Eraclius. The second part examines the consequences of consent to marriage: The problem of spousal equality is examined in Hartmann von Aue’s Erec, and the role of indissolubility is examined in Hartmann’s Iwein. All five romances are shown to support the new laws of marriage by testing and proving them in the form of “cases,” sometimes in the form of multiple cases testing multiple facets of the new laws.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:German

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