«The development of the family into a small unit in which descent was traced almost exclusively through the male line is regarded as a major turning ...»
Early Medieval Europe 2001 10 (3) # Blackwell Publishers Ltd 2001 Transformation of kinship and family Meanwhile, álfric (monk at Cerne Abbas and abbot of Eynsham) was amongst the monastic scholars who sought to re-order the laity's sexual relations, putting forward views which differed in key aspects from seventh-century ideals. He suggested that married women who bore sons, practised continence and then carried out acts of charity with their husbands, chose a better path towards salvation than wives who unilaterally asserted rights to continence.82 This model for the lay family's behaviour arose from monastic concerns, ranging from the need to secure monastic recruits to fears of assertive statements of female sexuality, but it was also part of a more general debate on sexuality, kinship and the family.83 As regards the structure of kinship and the family, a series of developments correlated with the beginning and intermediate stages in the transformation of the family from an extended bilateral system into an agnatic and patrilineal kinship: new family rituals in gift-giving, family monasteries, and simple genealogies. The parallel transformations in the structure of the aristocratic family in north-west Europe and Sung-dynasty China between the late tenth and early twelfth centuries developed from nobilities' commitment to the initiatives of Benedictine and Buddhist monks under the sponsorship and protection of kings and emperors respectively, rather than emerging from ®ssures between rulers, secular elites and religious orders.84 P. Jackson, `álfric and the Purpose of Christian Marriage: a Reconsideration of the Life of áthelthryth, Lines 120±30', ASE 29 (2001), pp. 235±60, particularly pp. 255±60.
Ibid., p. 258; Cubitt, `Virginity and Misogyny', pp. 10±11, 21±2.
For a study of this comparative theme in the central Middle Ages, see I.F. Silber, Virtuosity, Charisma and Social Order: a Comparative Sociological Study of Monasticism in Theravada Buddhism and Medieval Catholicism (Cambridge, 1995). The author is grateful to Janet Nelson, Nancy Hynes, seminar audiences at the Institute of Historical Research and the University of York, and to the editors of Early Medieval Europe, especially Julia Crick.
# Blackwell Publishers Ltd 2001 Early Medieval Europe 2001 10 (3)