Marriage, sex and death: the family in the post-Imperial west

Southon, Emma (2013). Marriage, sex and death: the family in the post-Imperial west. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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This thesis presents a cultural history of families and family roles in the post-Imperial west, here defined as AD 400-700. This thesis questions the ‘tri-partite’ influences of Roman heritage, ‘Germanic’ culture and Christianisation in the post-Imperial west, and identifies the prime driver of change in the construction of families as the development and implementation of Christian thought. This thesis is in two parts. The first considers families in the legal context of the post-Imperial law codes, and provides a systematic overview of the laws using the Theodosian and Justinian codes as a point of comparison. This section concludes that the post-Imperial codes are Roman in nature and that much of the legislation which concerns the family is very similar to the late Roman law of the Theodosian Code. This section considers legal stipulations concerning betrothal, marriage, adultery, divorce, widowhood, and parenthood. Part two considers the issues raised in part one within the literary context of the post-Imperial west, drawing on a wide geographical and chronological range of genres and texts to provide a diachronic analysis. This section considers many of the same concerns which are raised part one, but highlights different perspectives. In particular, part two argues that the development of Christian thought concerning families, and the increasing power of Christian Churches underlies much change that is seen in the literary texts within and throughout this period. These two sections come together to present a broad analysis of families and family roles throughout the lifecycle of the traditional families in the post-Imperial west, highlighting new cultural and religious landscapes as drivers for change rather than ethnic values.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of History and Cultures, Department of Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology (CAHA)
Funders: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D111 Medieval History


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