To Have and To Hold: Marriage in Premodern Europe

The University of Toronto held a two-day conference, entitled “To Have and to Hold: Marriage in Premodern Europe (1200-1700)”, which examined how marriage was understood and practiced during the Middle Ages and Early Modern periods.  Over a hundred scholars attended or took part in the conference, which was organized by The Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies.

The topics discussed at the conference included marriage rituals, customs, social expectations, polygamy, concubinage, and clandestine, mystical, and same-sex marriages.  Those attending the conference came from throughout Canada and the United States, and as far off as Italy and Australia. 

Advertisement was on hand for the second day of the conference, where we reported on the event and filmed video interviews with several of the participants.  Furthermore, Sandra Alvarez had completed a detailed report of the sessions she attended, which are now available:

Part 1: “By Force, By Love, By God”

Part 2: Wifehood as a Profession – Margharite Datini 1376- 1410

Part 3: Irregular Unions

We also recorded several interviews with conference participants, asking them about the papers they gave and their field of research:


Konrad Eisenichler – one of the organizers of the conference, he talks to us about why they decided to have a conference looking at the history of marriage

Elena Brizio – talks about her paper which dealt with a marriage from Renaissance Siena, and her work with the Medici Archive Project

Michelle Armstrong Partida – discusses her paper “Married Priests? The Practice of Clerical Unions in Fourteenth-Century Catalunya

Shannon McSheffrey – discusses her research on Medieval London and using archive records

Ann Crabb – discusses her research on Margherita Datini of Prato and Florence, who lived during the 14th and 15th centuries.


Steven Bednarski – his research on court records from medieval France

Dana Wessell Lightfoot and Alexandra Guerson – we talk both of these medieval scholars, whose research focuses on medieval marriage, particularly in Spain during the Later Middle Ages.

We thank everyone involved for allowing us to be at the conference and carry out these interviews.  If any of the other people who attended the conference would like to share their views on it, please email us and we will include with this section.

Our earlier news article about the conference can be found here.

The Conference website can be found here.