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After LaviniaA Literary History of Premodern Marriage Diplomacy$
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John Watkins

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781501707575

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501707575.001.0001

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Interdynastic Marriage, Religious Conversion, and the Expansion of Diplomatic Society

Interdynastic Marriage, Religious Conversion, and the Expansion of Diplomatic Society

(p.51) Chapter 2 Interdynastic Marriage, Religious Conversion, and the Expansion of Diplomatic Society
After Lavinia

John Watkins

Cornell University Press

This chapter focuses on interdynastic marriage in Roman successor states beyond the Alps, the kingdoms of the Merovingian Franks and the Anglo-Saxons during the northern European conversions to Christianity. It considers religious conversion stories that document the expansion of a Latin-based, premodern diplomatic society, beginning with a discussion of Historiae, Gregory of Tours's account of the Burgundian princess Clothilde's conversion of her Frankish husband, Clovis, and its place in the history of marriage diplomacy. The chapter proceeds by analyzing Bede's Historia ecclesiastica, which suggests that clerics may have supplanted royal women as actors in the expansion of diplomatic society after the great conversions. Gregory of Tours and Bede both advocated interdynastic marriage as a vehicle for the Christianization of Europe. Clerical marriage was a regular feature of diocesan life in sixth-century Francia, and Gregory frequently refers to the wives of priests and of his brother bishops.

Keywords:   interdynastic marriage, Christianity, religious conversion, diplomatic society, Historiae, Gregory of Tours, marriage diplomacy, Bede, Historia ecclesiastica, Christianization

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