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The family has become a subject of increasing scrutiny in recent years, giving special relevance to this work by the late Michael Sheehan. Collected here for the first time, Sheehan's papers contain the fruits of a forty-year-long career of archival research and interpretation of documents on property, marriage, family, sexuality, and law in medieval Europe. Marked by an early orientation and developing focus on the status of women in the Middle Ages, the work of Michael Sheehan displays a unique tapestry of the social and legal realities of medieval marriages and family life.
Sheehan's research focused on the parallel study and interpretation of Church law and cases drawn from ecclesiastical court registers. By analysing the emergence of the last will as a legal and social document, he brought a new interpretation to the definition and codification of Christian marriage and the family and how these institutions functioned in society. Although his approach was largely by way of canon law, he was invariably at pins to incorporate solid support from such related fields as theology, the social and popular history of religion, and the history of sexuality and sexual behaviour. As a result, these essays throw light on many social realities in medieval Europe and illustrate the development of a methodology for others to follow.
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"Marriage, Family and Law in Medieval Europe is a comprehensive yet balanced collection of articles from Sheehan's scholarly career. Sheehan's original and meticulous work on a variety of legal sources laid the groundwork for much subsequent scholarship. Anyone interested in the development of the theory and practice of Christian marriage, the institutional frameworks for medieval women's lives, or seeking to understand English wills as legal products will find this collection of essays a valuable introduction to further research.'
'This collection of Father Sheehan's articles and papers will be a valuable resource, I believe, for virtually every serious scholar who deals with the intersection of law and society in medieval Europe.'
'Michael's work has had a profound effect on my own...and I find myself constantly returning to [it]. Each time I find new material and new insights. Michael's work also affected numerous others. It has not been superseded; it is not out-of-date. It deserves to be published as a corpus.'About the Author:
Michael M. Sheehan was Senior Fellow of the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, Toronto.
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