Clandestine Marriage and the Church: King Horn after the Fourth Lateran Council
- Comitatus: A Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies
- University of California, Los Angeles, Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies
- Volume 47, 2016
- pp. 135-161
- View Citation
- Additional Information
The early thirteenth-century romance King Horn turns upon a series of failed marriage contracts between Horn and his lover Rymenhild. In each of these contracts, Horn and Rymenhild script their own vows, revealing detailed knowledge of the intricacies of medieval marriage law. By stacking one incomplete contract on top of another, King Horn draws attention to specific gaps and inconsistencies within medieval marriage regulations: particularly those affected by the reforms of the Fourth Lateran Council. This article will argue that by analyzing the delays, disruptions, and interferences within Horn and Rymenhild’s marriage, we can see their relationship as a test case that exposes the inherent inadequacy of the Church’s ability to regulate the sacrament of marriage.