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Mixed Matches

Mixed Matches: Trangressive Unions in Germany from the Reformation to the Enlightenment

Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 252
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  • Book Info
    Mixed Matches
    Book Description:

    The significant changes in early modern German marriage practices included many unions that violated some taboo. That taboo could be theological and involve the marriage of monks and nuns, or refer to social misalliances as when commoners and princes (or princesses) wed. Equally transgressive were unions that crossed religious boundaries, such as marriages between Catholics and Protestants, those that violated ethnic or racial barriers, and those that broke kin-related rules. Taking as a point of departure Martin Luther's redefinition of marriage, the contributors to this volume spin out the multiple ways that the Reformers' attempts to simplify and clarify marriage affected education, philosophy, literature, high politics, diplomacy, and law. Ranging from the Reformation, through the ages of confessionalization, to the Enlightenment,Mixed Matchesaddresses the historical complexity of the socio-cultural institution of marriage.

    eISBN: 978-1-78238-410-6
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. INTRODUCTION. Transgressive Unions
    (pp. 1-13)

    In our time, and on both sides of the Atlantic, barriers to marriage crumble and fall. When the Supreme Court of the United States overturned anti-miscegenation laws in 1967, seventeen states still forbade marriages that crossed the color line. Most of these states had been on the losing side of the Civil War, but such legislation was no Southern monopoly. Only nine states hadneverenacted such laws.¹ Public attitudes toward mixed-race unions have softened as well. At the time of the court’s decision inLoving v. Virginia, large majorities still disapproved of them; today, among Americans born after 1981,...

  4. CHAPTER 1 “It Is Not Forbidden that a Man May Have More Than One Wife”: Luther’s Pastoral Advice on Bigamy and Marriage
    (pp. 14-30)

    In 1522 Martin Luther published a short treatise on the estate of marriage.¹ It was based on a series of sermons on the subject and covered the negative impediments to marriage, possible reasons one might terminate a marriage, and the positive benefits of marriage. This was not a topic he relished. “How I dread preaching on the estate of marriage! I am reluctant to do it because I am afraid if I once get really involved in the subject it will make a lot of work for me and for others. The shameful confusion wrought by the accursed papal law...

  5. CHAPTER 2 Celibacy—Marriage—Unmarriage: The Controversy over Celibacy and Clerical Marriage in the Early Reformation
    (pp. 31-44)

    In December 1523 the council of the town of Hersfeld in eastern Hesse issued a mandate, threatening those who lived in “unmarriage” (Unehe)—that is, unmarried persons living as couples together, also referred to as concubinage—with banishment unless they married within the space of fourteen days. Those who refused to do so were to be punished physically.¹ I do not know of any other case in the entire area of Hesse and Thuringia in which, at least before the Peasants’ Revolt of 1525, the authorities tried to use such radical means to combat concubinage. Although the Hersfeld mandate putatively...

  6. CHAPTER 3 “Nothing More than Common Whores and Knaves”: Married Nuns and Monks in the Early German Reformation
    (pp. 45-62)

    In early 1523 Hans von der Planitz reported a rumor circulating in Nuremberg about a Carthusian monk who had kidnapped a nun from her convent, dressed her as a man, and taken her to Wittenberg where she then married both the Carthusian monk and an Augustinian monk.¹ Despite declaring his source unreliable, Planitz felt enough uncertainty to ask Frederick the Wise to confirm that the story was not true, which Frederick did, hinting the gossip possibly stemmed from a Fastnacht prank.² Even though the rumor was false, this episode illustrates the perception that clerical marriages, especially of monks and nuns,...

  7. CHAPTER 4 Transgressive Unions and Concepts of Honor in Early Modern Defamation Lawsuits
    (pp. 63-79)

    The scene of the marriage between Johan Bruns, mayor of Korbach, and Maria von Viermund, a Westphalian noblewoman, was one of peace, appropriate to feelings of love and affection between groom and bride. The two were wed in an orchard near Korbach on Sunday Jubilatis, 1 May 1547. Because this ceremony, like every wedding, established a legal relationship, it was attended by witnesses: three men, a chaplain among them, and a woman called theGrevesche

    Initially, the groom addressed himself to his bride’s kinfolk: “Dear Mary,” asked Bruns, “are you sure that your cousin, the Bailiff of Dringenberg, and your...

  8. CHAPTER 5 Negotiating Rank in Early Modern Marital Mismatches
    (pp. 80-100)

    There is no need to stress that the differences between the social orders in the societies of the early modern period were of crucial importance for how these societies functioned. The concept of inequality formed the basis for the unequal distribution not only of reputation, but also of rights and privileges. These included authorities connected with lordship over people and land as well as sovereign rule, and determined how one could profit from agricultural production and trade. In the framework of orders, nobles enjoyed the most far-reaching privileges and therefore profited most from this particular social structure.

    From the nobles’...

  9. CHAPTER 6 Between Conscience and Coercion: Mixed Marriages, Church, Secular Authority, and Family
    (pp. 101-118)

    On 16 Feburary 1609, Cordes von Amelunxen, a Catholic, married the Lutheran Catharina von Borchorst. Only a few years later, Catharina fled to a convent in order to escape the physical abuse of her husband. Her brother sued for divorce on her behalf, and when Amelunxen received notice from his brother-in-law, Amelunxen rejected any suggestion that “the misunderstanding between he and me [has] resulted from the provocations of wicked people.”¹ On the contrary, at the root of the problem were Catharina’s religious attitudes and her interference in his affairs. He had had “sufficient cause … to slap her on the...

  10. CHAPTER 7 The Rhetoric of Difference: The Marriage Negotiations between Queen Christina of Sweden and Elector Friedrich Wilhelm of Brandenburg
    (pp. 119-133)

    The suggestion of a potential match between Queen Christina of Sweden (1626–1689) and Elector Friedrich Wilhelm of Brandenburg (1620–1688) was debated over the course of fifteen years but never came to be. An acute consciousness of difference between the prospective partners stood at the center of the rhetoric surrounding the marriage plan. Interestingly, both opponents and proponents of the Brandenburg–Swedish match seized on this developed sense of difference as an organizing principle of their countervailing positions. Marriage supporters in particular highlighted the potential of a union between significantly different partners to function (in Victor Turner’s terms) as...

  11. CHAPTER 8 Mixed Matches and Inter-Confessional Dialogue: The Hanoverian Succession and the Protestant Dynasties of Europe in the Early Eighteenth Century
    (pp. 134-149)

    Europe in the early eighteenth century witnessed a number of significant changes that are usually said to explain the transition from a confessional age to an era of enlightenment. To draw out those changes, the present chapter examines several cross-confessional dynastic marriages during the years around 1700. Four closely related trends intersected here. One was the growing significance of discussions surrounding royal succession, monarchical stability, and the continuity of Europe’s ruling houses.¹ Another was the evolution of a new, more stable, and more professional system of political interaction following the peace negotiations of Westphalia (1648) and usually connected to an...

  12. CHAPTER 9 Transethnic Unions in Early Modern German Travel Literature
    (pp. 150-165)

    In the second half of the seventeenth century, Johann Christian Hoffmann, originally from Bischhausen, a small town in Hessen, sailed with the Dutch East India Company (Vereenigde Oost-indische Compagnie; VOC) to India. His travel account describes at length life onboard a VOC ship: the harsh punishments, the illnesses, and the deaths as well as one marriage: On the ship, one of the officers—the quartermaster (Speisemeister) Jacob Janson de Nys, from Amsterdam—married a young woman, named Maria Zacharia, the daughter of a VOC sergeant. The relationship astonished and shocked Hoffmann: “Such an unequal pair I have not seen all...

  13. CHAPTER 10 The Meaning of Love: Emotion and Kinship in Sixteenth-Century Incest Discourses
    (pp. 166-183)

    When Martin Luther married the former nun Katharina von Bora in 1525, contemporaries considered his marriage incestuous.¹ Why? As an Augustinian monk, Luther had vowed to lead a chaste life, a promise regarded as binding, indissoluble, and mandatory. Katharina von Bora had entered the convent of Nimbschen in 1509, at the age of ten. In 1515 she became a regular nun by taking final vows of chastity.² Both she and Martin Luther had therefore abjured a worldly life, renounced marriage, and devoted themselves entirely to God. Despite her vows and despite having lived for fourteen years in the cloister, in...

  14. CHAPTER 11 Aufklärung, Literature, and Fatherly Love: An Eighteenth-Century Case of Incest
    (pp. 184-203)

    Popular literature in the mid-nineteenth century often took the form of what was, or came to be, known as “mysteries” literature—a genre that took its name from Eugène Sue’s famous and extraordinarily popular serialization entitledThe Mysteries of Paris(Les Mystères de Paris).¹ Sue’sMysteriescombined melodramatic stories, memorable fictional characters, and social consciousness; other writers, and some significantly greater ones, such as Émile Zola and Charles Dickens, imitated Sue’s new form. Not only thegrands écrivainsof the century imitated Sue: a host of epigones and scribblers did so as well.² One of these lesser writers was Bernhard...

  15. AFTERWORD. Shifting Boundaries and Boundary Shifters: Transgressive Unions and the History of Marriage in Early Modern Germany
    (pp. 204-212)

    Marriage by its very nature comprises not only the relationship between two individuals, but also the relationship of that union to the larger society. It has always involved, in that sense, some combination of both public recognition and private consent. The legal basis for this public approval is in turn based on collective, communal norms, which obviously vary considerably—not just across historical cultures but also within cultures themselves. Every individual, moreover, is simultaneously a member of multiple communities—based on kinship, habitation, ethnicity, and so on—and while the values of these communities often overlap to significant degrees, they...

    (pp. 213-238)
  17. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 239-242)
  18. INDEX
    (pp. 243-246)