Verry matrymony : representations of the Virgin Mary and her mother, Saint Anne, as wives in medieval England, 1200-1540
This interdisciplinary study of devotional literature, drama and the visual arts examines the representation of Mary and her mother, Saint Anne, as wives in England between 1200 and 1540, and women's responses to these images. The thesis addresses a lacuna in modem Marian and Anne scholarship which has, hitherto, paid little attention to the fact of both saints' representation as wives in this period, and reclaims the meaning, function and reception of these forgotten images. The thesis commences with a synopsis of Marian and Anne devotion up until the central Middle Ages in order that English awareness of Mary and Anne as wives might be contextualised. Chapter Two presents evidence of this awareness; a chronological catalogue of medieval English representations of Mary and Anne as wives, in a variety of media. Chapter Three presents an historical account of the social context of medieval marriage; it examines the legal, social and canonical definition of marriage and demonstrates how this instruction reached the laity for whom it was intended. Chapter Four articulates how the representations of Mary and Anne as wives fitted into both contemporary marital discourse and its social practice. Chapter Five returns to the representations and interrogates their meaning and function, using medieval ars memorativa as the critical tool with which to do so, and demonstrates how real women responded to these images. The thesis concludes that Mary and Anne's wifely status was invoked by some theologians, canon lawyers and clerics to serve as an aide memoire and marital exemplar : of the Church's ideal wedding ceremony and of desired wifely behaviour(s) but that women's responses to these representations were less and other than that which their producers might have intended : generally they were met with silence.