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Varia Historia

Print version ISSN 0104-8775


JOYE, Sylvie. Social practice and the traps in the sources: historiographical and normative sources on bride kidnapping in the Late Middle Age. Varia hist. [online]. 2010, vol.26, n.43, pp.71-90. ISSN 0104-8775.

The kidnapping of brides to force a marriage was a practice disapproved and legally convicted, but at the same time, to some extent, socially tolerated in Europe during the Middle Ages. Thus, the normative status given to the sources (particularly barbaric laws) and the manner in which certain articles of the law were isolated from their documentary context explains, in large part, why historians have saw in the abduction a form of marriage and a complete survival of old "Germanic" institutions. As for the narrative sources, it is imperative not to forget the context of its writing, even if sometimes it seems relatively neutral. Otherwise, we risk giving too much weight to some marginal and unrepresentative examples. Replace the documentary and ideological context of the astonishing examples of the Caroligian period allow us to minimize the idea of the high number of bride’s kidnapping at that time.

Keywords : bride kidnapping; Barbaric laws; chronicles.

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