Themed Issue: Affect and Emotion in the Middle Ages
Through a comparison of the Life of Saint Godelieve of Gistel and a group of marriage separation cases from a fourteenth-century Parisian Archdeacon’s court, the author argues that there was a cultural expectation of affection within medieval marriages. Saint Godelieve, who was murdered by her husband because of his overwhelming hatred for her, became the patron saint of difficult marriages. Her husband’s words before he had her killed were a way to convince her to go willingly to her death and paint an idyllic picture of the marriage that could have been. In a similar way, the court cases in the Archdeacon’s court of Paris present failed marriages including the reasons why the couples wanted to separate, and why the court agreed to permit them to do so. The court notary’s use of odium [hatred], rancor [rancor], and inimicitia [enmity] as the primary and secondary reasons for numerous legal separations indicates the importance of marital affection to the court, and to society.
In this article, Brazinski investigates Gregory the Great’s cultivation of relationships with aristocratic women. In particular, he argues that Gregory the Great was inconsistent with his gift-giving policies toward female aristocrats in missionary regions. To his longtime Christian allies, Gregory the Great sent gifts asserting his authority. However, to female aristocrats in missionary regions, he gifted individualized and targeted gifts. Instead of using doctrinal proofs or lavish gifts to persuade them to convert their people, the Pontiff sent special, thoughtful gifts to cultivate an emotional connection between himself and his recipient. By exploring emotions in his letters, such as enthusiasm, and comparing them to his gifts, Brazinski argues that Gregory gifted emotions, in that the objects materialized and reflected the Pontiff’s sentiments.