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The Marriage of Likeness: Same-sex Unions in Pre-modern Europe Paperback – 22 Jan 1996


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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Fontana Press; New edition edition (22 Jan 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0006863264
  • ISBN-13: 978-0006863267
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 13 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 616,236 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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From the Back Cover

'The Marriage of Likeness' changes forever the way we view the history of gay relationships in the West.

“The core argument of this book is likely to surprise liberals and moralists alike: that until the 14th century in Europe, same-sex relationships could be solemnised by the Church. The prayers, services and liturgies for those unions are specific and they are included in the exhaustive appendices to the book…Even now Boswell’s work is causing trouble and those scholars and reviewers who have sought to discredit him to do not seem to be being so out of an earnest search for truth, but out of anxieties of their own. The facts are undeniable…No reader can doubt either the quality of the scholarship or Boswell’s refusal to bias his findings for the benefit of any pressure group…It is beyond doubt that same-sex unions were welcomed and admired within the early Church and the wider reach for society.”
JEANETTE WINTERSON, 'Daily Telegraph'

“[After] twelve years of arduous research, the result is this extraordinary book…It is greatly to Boswell’s credit that he was able to treat his subject with such absolute historical and scholarly integrity, anticipating as it is clear he does, the sort of uproar that it might provoke. Other scholars will debate the significance of the ceremony, but I think few can doubt its essential meaning or Boswell’s achievement in establishing a text which is bound to be taken up as the original gay marriage service.”
CLAIRE HARMANN, 'Independent on Sunday'

“Those Christians who find 'The Marriage of Likeness' offensive may do well to reflect on the tolerance their church once showed…Closely argued, moderately phrased in deference to the prejudices that it may excite, and a model of accessible scholarship, this book is , by default, a plea for the church to return to its old practices…There are many who care a great deal about this. For them, Boswell has provided all the weapons they need.”
PETER STANFORD, 'New Statesman and Society'

“Boswell’s learned book is brilliant riposte to those who claim the Church has always maintained that the only acceptable adult relationship is between a man and a woman.”
PETER BRADSHAW, 'Evening Standard'


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Vince on 7 Oct 2004
Format: Paperback
Boswell's 'Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe' is a fastidiously researched and thoroughly persuasive book highlighting the existence of homosexual unions (aka marriages) in medieval times, whilst remaining highly readable and accessible to those who can't be bothered wading through pages and pages of unintelligible dry text. He unearths some interesting facts during the course of the book - for instance the Roman Catholic church happily 'married' gay men before the thirteenth century - somewhat at odds with their take on such matters today! It does ignore lesbian relationships but not out of choice - there is simply next to nothing written on women in general around medieval times, such was their place in society! It really is an interesting book, and I found it to be invaluable whilst writing my dissertation on the debate on gay marriage. Highly recommended not just for research purposes, but also for general non-fiction reading.
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