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The result of twelve years of research, Same Sex Unions in Premodern Europe focuses on Boswell's discovery of Catholic and Orthodox liturgies for same-sex unions, here translated into English for the first time. These ceremonies, which were performed throughout Christendom into modern times, are shown to bear striking resemblance to heterosexual nuptial services. Boswell traces same-sex unions from Platonic Greece, where the bonding of brotherly equals was considered the noblest form of human contact; to Rome, with its elaborate systems of legal adoption; to Christianized Europe, in which moral ambivalence toward human sexuality of any kind gradually gave way to intolerance, but not before the Church created liturgies to bless loving unions both straight and gay. The analysis required to place these ceremonies in their proper context makes this book a virtual history of the roots of all modern marriages. Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe demonstrates that same-sex relationships have been sanctioned and even idealized in Western societies for over two thousand years.
"Boswell's book provides us with a whole new [historical] model for adult gay relationships."
--Natalie Zemon Davis, Princeton University
Table of Contents
1. "What's in a Name?": The Vocabulary of Love and Marriage
2. "For Family and Country": Heterosexual Matrimony in the Greco-Roman World
3. "A Friend Inspired by God": Same-Sex Unions in the Greco-Roman World
4. "This World Is Passing Away": Views of the New Religion
5. "What God Has Joined Together": The Development of Nuptial Offices
6. "Let Me Not to the Marriage of True Minds Admit Impediments": Comparison of Same-Sex and Heterosexual Ceremonies
7. The History of Same-Sex Unions in Medieval Europe
8. "Those Who See and Those Who Do Not...": Subsequent Developments: A Look Forward