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To have allowed the latter would have meant transferring control over them and, more importantly, whatever property was part of their dowry, permanently to another man (Duby, 42).

As the power and influence of the Roman Catholic Church spread throughout Europe, the Church became more vocal and active in its opposition to any form of marriage and/or union which was not binding for life or permitted more than one recognized partner.

This is not to say that concubinage was not a formally recognized relationship.

Indeed, the formal agreement for entering into such a union had its own rites, much like marriage (Duby, 44).

As was alluded to earlier, during the Middle Ages, Western European cultures recognized more than one form of socially acceptable and binding union between men and women.

In contrast to twentieth-century society, where the only legally recognized union is marriage, early medieval society held concubinage, as well as marriage to be socially acceptable and legally valid.

This paper arose from a collaboration which I entered into with B. We noticed that we were frequently seeing questions posted to the wedding newsgroups, asking about medieval-style weddings. began gathering information on medieval-themed weddings, while I developed a bibliography of books and articles dealing with period wedding practices.

At the time, both of us were active on the wedding newsgroups (alt.weddings and soc.couples.wedding) and the SCA newsgroup (sca).

Much of the conflict regarding marriage in Western Europe during the early Middle Ages stems not just from the gradual replacement of pagan* customs with Christian ones, but also from the spread of Roman culture as well.

The querents were always directed to the SCA newsgroup where no one knew anything either. The result was the Medieval/Renaissance Wedding FAQ, created and maintained by B. Kuehl and posted on the Medieval/Renaissance Wedding Page ( maintained by myself.

This paper is the end result of the bibliography which I developed for the Medieval/Renaissance Wedding FAQ.

The purpose of this paper is to provide a very general overview of Christian wedding customs in Western Europe during the Middle Ages and Renaissance.

Most of the sources I found were in agreement that little is known of wedding customs and practices prior to the tenth or eleventh century.

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In Christian terms, the husband-wife relationship is analogous to that of Christ and the Church.

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