Presidential Address delivered at the American Historical Association annual meeting in New York on December 28, 1990. Published in the American Historical Review 96:1 (February 1991): 1–16.


The word “family” in modern languages carries many resonances, not all of them harmonious. In the view of some, the family is an instrument of social oppression; it imprisons adults and ruins children. “Families, I hate you,” French novelist André Gide exclaimed in 1897 and reiterated in 1933.1 American social critic Paul Goodman declared that “the family is the ultimate American fascism.”2 British poet Philip Larkin had this to say concerning family life:

Get out as early as you can
And don’t have any kids yourself.3

But to others the family is a haven in a hostile world. To be treated “like family” in common parlance means to be loved and supported. A justice of the Rhode Island Supreme Court, in upholding an ordinance against domestic picketing in January 1990, described the home as “the one retreat to which men and women can repair to escape from the tribulations of their daily pursuits.” It was, in his estimation, “the last citadel of the tired, the weary and the sick.”4

Here, I want to explore the distant origins of this double vision: of the family as loving and of the outer world as loveless. Put another way, I want to examine the emergence of the family in the West as a moral unit and a moral universe: a unit in the sense that it is sharply differentiated from the larger associations of kin and community, and a universe in the sense that human relations within it are very different from human relations outside its limits. The epoch of our interest, late antiquity and the Middle Ages, is admittedly remote, but it is also a formative period in the history of Western domestic culture. The writings we shall explore are legal, philosophical, and theological texts. Historians of law have systematically analyzed the legal codes of antiquity and the Middle Ages bearing on the family, but their goals have been much different from my own.5 Philosophical and theological tracts have been, in contrast, rarely scrutinized for purposes of social history; the materials in them seemed too speculative and abstract, too far removed from quotidian experience.

We must first attempt brief definitions of crucial terms. What did the ancient and medieval writers call the family? Curiously, the ancients had no exact equivalent to our modern word “family.” This fault of terminology suggests that they came only slowly to conceive of the domestic community as sharply separated from the larger society.

The English word “family” is a direct borrowing from the Latin familia, which also supplies a common word for family to most other modern European languages, including German and Polish. It appeared very early in the Romance languages, from at least the twelfth century; it entered English by the fifteenth and German only in the sixteenth.6 In classical Latin, familia carried several meanings.7 As the ancients themselves noted, the word could refer to both persons and property.8 Both ancient and medieval grammarians believed, correctly it seems, that the Romans had borrowed the word from a neighboring people, the Oscans. The Oscan root, famel, meant slave, and the word also supplied Latin with a common name for slave, famulus.9 Familia thus originally meant a band of slaves. “Fifteen freemen make a people,” wrote the second-century novelist Apuleius, “fifteen slaves make a family, and fifteen prisoners make a jail.”10 The word in its original sense thus implied an authoritarian structure and hierarchical order, founded on but not limited to relations of marriage and parenthood. In a related way, the Latin word for father, pater, designated in its original sense not a biological parent but the holder of authority. The biological male parent was genitor. Authority, in sum, and not consanguinity, not even marriage, was at the core of the ancient concept of family. Even an unmarried male could be a paterfamilias. Moreover, in early Roman law, the father’s authority, the patria potestas, was absolute, including even the ius necis, the right to put to death members of his family.

Familia long held this meaning of a band of slaves. “We are accustomed to call staffs of slaves families,” the jurist Ulpian observed in the second century A.D.11 Even when slavery waned in late antiquity and the Middle Ages, the term family continued to be used to designate servants or serfs. Pope Gregory the Great at theend of the sixth century compared the human mind to a family. Our separate thoughts are like numerous servant girls, who gossip and neglect their chores, until their mistress, reason, shushes them and sets them to their tasks, imposing order on our mental familia.12 Elsewhere, Gregory applied the word to the coloni, or peasants, who worked on the papal estates.13 The staffs of both lay and ecclesiastical officials in the Middle Ages were routinely referred to as “families.” Still, in the nineteenth century, the entire papal bureaucracy, including hundreds of functionaries from clerks to cardinals, was known as the famiglia pontificia, the pontifical family.14

From slaves subject to a master, the word was easily extended to all persons—wives and children, natural or adopted—who were under the patria potestas. “In strict law,” explained Ulpian, “we call a family the several persons who by nature or law are placed under the authority of a single person.”15 Even the clients or retainers of a powerful person, though not fully subject to the patria potestas, were reckoned to be part of the great man’s family. The ancient family in this sense could reach colossal size. Julius Caesar, in his Gallic War, related how the Helvetian chief Orgetorix, when put on trial by his tribe, “gathered from every quarter to the place of judgment all his family, to the number of some ten thousand men.”16

By further extension, the word applied to groups of people possessing some organization, or at least some similarity, in their styles of life. In classical Latin literature under the name of “family,” there appear prostitutes in a brothel; publicans or tax collectors, moneyers; military units; schools of philosophers; and, in Christian usage, demons, monks, and the clergy generally.17 St. Augustine of Hippo referred to the entire Christian church as the “family of Christ” or the “family of God.”18 The Christian author Lactantius, in his diatribe On the Death of Persecutors, gave the word an even larger sweep. Lactantius was condemning the cruelty of the pagan emperor Galerius. The wicked Galerius, wrote Lactantius, like the Persian kings before him, treated the entire empire tamquam familia, “like a family,” that is, a limitless aggregation of sullen slaves all suffering under his tyrannous power.19 This use of the word family to designate a huge community of the cowed rings strange to modern ears, but it is consistent with the term’s core meaning, as an aggregation of slaves.

Did the ancients even recognize the domestic unit to be a distinct social entity separate from the outside world? They certainly had a developed sense of what was public and what was private. In the second century A.D., the moralist Aulus Gellius posed the question whether a father was obligated to give up his seat of honor to a magistrate son.20 He replied that “in public places and functions,” magisterial authority prevailed over paternal authority, and the father must defer to his magistrate son. Within the domestic sphere, however, “public honors cease and the natural honors conferred by birth are recognized.” Here, the magistrate son must yield place of honor to the father. The ancients did draw a firm line between the res publica, and the res domestica. In the public realm, the state commanded; in the domestic, the father. On the other hand, the father’s authority could extend well beyond the co-residential unit, to slaves working elsewhere, to freedmen likely to be living elsewhere, to absent but unemancipated sons, such as those serving in the army. The ancient familia was therefore not coterminous with the household.

As Ulpian noted, the second principal meaning of familia was property. This usage seems to have represented an extension from its original meaning of “vocal” property—that is, slaves—to the master’s other possessions. In the word’s earliest attestation in the Roman Law of the Twelve Tables (fifth century B.C.), it carries the sense of “inheritance.” The Justinian code in the sixth century A.D. affirms that in certain instances “the word family should be understood as property, because it designates slaves and other things in a person’s patrimony.”21 This understanding also persisted in medieval usage. The Venerable Bede, in his Ecclesiastical History ofthe English People in the early eighth century, used familia in the sense of peasant farm or peasant inheritance.22 This meaning may have been reinforced with the revival of Roman legal studies in the West from the twelfth century. A fourteenth-century Italian author, Paolo da Certaldo, used the Italian word famiglia with the sense of patrimony. “In order that the famiglia may grow,” he counseled his readers, “it is desirable to save and to put aside in just measure as much as you can.”23

Among the master’s possessions, the domus, house or domicile, held a special importance, and domus, too, is often used in classical Latin to identify the domestic unit.24 A girl in marrying, wrote Aulus Gellius, leaves the domus of her parents in order to join the familia of her husband.25 St. Augustine instructed in a sermon: “The residents of a house are called a house … [We here call] a house not walls and rooms, but the residents themselves.”26 But domus, like familia, had many derivative meanings and could be applied to much larger groups than the domestic unit. The seventh-century Spanish encyclopedist Isidore of Seville explained: “The house is a residence of a single family, just as the city is the residence of a single people, just as the world is the residence of the entire human race. ‘House’ is also the kindred, family or the union of man and wife. It begins from two persons, and is a Greek word.”27 It could be applied, in other words, to descent groups, tribes, and entire nations, such as the “house of Israel,” that claimed to be based on blood relations. Later, in medieval usage, it would be equally applied to religious communities and to representative assemblies, such as the houses of parliament.

To identify the domestic unit, ancient and medieval writers usually combined domus and familia, as did Isidore. When, in the thirteenth century, Thomas Aquinas wished to identify the household, he used such terms as familia domestica or domus vel familia, “house or family.”28

The laws and institutions governing the domestic community changed profoundly from early Roman times into the Middle Ages. The Roman father soon lost his powers of life and death over family members, if, indeed, he had ever really used them. In medieval law, the father could discipline for just cause his wards, including his wife, but not to the point of maiming them.29 Even his authority over family property or its patrimony weakened. He could not consume that property arbitrarily but had to accept responsibility for the support of wife and children. We do not follow these diverse evolutions here. But, in one respect, the ancient understanding of the family survived. The family continued to be viewed as an organized and stable community, what the medieval doctors called a multitudo ordinata, set within another organized community, the state itself.30

And the family was in Aquinas’s phrase a “communion of domestic persons” or a “domestic communion,” that is, a community that acquired and shared the resources, especially food and shelter, needed to sustain the lives of its members.31

The progressive weakening of paternal authority allowed for, and perhaps even made necessary, the strengthening of another form of bonding that gave cohesion to the household: domestic affection. The ancient writers often mention, even if they are slow to emphasize, love within the household, the amor or amicitia, caritas or dilectio shared by family members. Cicero in the first century B.C. alluded to that special caritas joining parents and children, which cannot be destroyed except by heinous crime.32 Emperor Caligula in the first century A.D. is said to have imposed a special oath on his soldiers and functionaries. Those taking the oath swore not to hold themselves and their children dearer than Caligula and his sisters.33 Clearly, for Caligula, the love of parents for children was the supreme measure of devotion.

Even more than their pagan predecessors, Christian writers in the late imperial period commented extensively on love, in its social as well as religious dimensions. Caritas bonded together individuals and communities, marriages and households. In his Commentary on Genesis, Augustine raises the question why Adam obeyed Eve’s bidding to eat the forbidden fruit.34 He was not yet prompted by lust, which in the state of innocence did not rule his members; he was not maneuvering to seduce her. And he was much too intelligent to believe the Devil’s ruse, that the shared and eaten fruit would change him and his mate into gods. He obeyed her simply because he loved her and wished to please her. He acted, in Augustine’s phrase, out of loving good will. Many, Augustine reflected, like Adam, offend God in order to please their friend. Amicitia in marriage, in Augustine’s view, was present from the Creation.

Even earlier, around 230 A.D., Tertullian detected in families a “common spirit,” although he was limiting his observations exclusively to his fellow Christians.35 These families share emotional experiences; they feel, in his words, “common hope, fear, joy, pain and suffering.” Emotional communion linked together, in his phrase, “brothers and fellow slaves,” by which he seems to have meant family members who served one another. In a discourse written for his wife, he stated that between him and her there was “no difference of soul or body.”

In more general terms, “love,” Augustine affirmed, “ties men together in a knot of unity.”36 “Many souls,” he wrote elsewhere, “are made one soul through loving.”37 In a famous passage out of the City of God, he stated that “two loves have made two cities,” the one Jerusalem, the other Babylon, the one oriented toward Heaven, the other toward Earth, the both embracing all humanity and active throughout history.38 In patristic thought, caritas in the community functions as an essential cohesive force, much as potestas or power had served in pagan conceptions of society.

But caritas could work mischief, too, as Adam’s fall confirmed. Christians were supposed to love everyone, but were they required to love everyone equally? Could they love some persons more, others less? The theologian who launched a tradition of speculation on degrees of affection was Origen of Alexandria, active in the early third century, one of the most original minds of the early church. Origen wrote extensive commentaries on the books of the Old and New Testaments and made fundamental contributions to the methods of biblical exegesis. Our interests here are in a commentary and two homilies he devoted to the Old Testament Canticle of Canticles, or Song of Songs. This erotic text perplexed ascetically minded Christian exegetes as it had Jewish commentators before them. Origen’s commentary and homilies do not survive in the original Greek, but they are extant in Latin translations, by Jerome and by Rufinus, respectively.39 Authors of the high Middle Ages commonly attributed these works to Ambrose of Milan, and this association with one of the four Latin fathers gave them added authority.

The crucial passage was Canticle 2.4, in which the maiden says of her king-lover, “he has ordered me in love.” Inspired by this statement, Origen affirms that “saints” or the “perfect” would not love everyone equally but in ordered degrees. Love was, to be sure, a universal human experience. “Without doubt,” he stated, “all men love something, and there is no one who arrives at an age when he can love who does not love.”40 But we do not and should not love all equally. First and foremost, we are to love God. After God, we love in order our parents, our children, and our “domestics,” by which Origen seems to mean both co-residential relatives and servants. Finally, we love our neighbors—those outside our homes.41 Origen assigned no formal place to love of self, and he did not in this ranking mention love of spouse or siblings. In another passage, however, he proposed a parallel order of affection in regard to women: we should love first our mothers, who also deserve the highest reverence; then our sisters but not with the same honor; then wives in a special fashion; and then all other women, both relatives and neighbors, according to their merit, but always chastely.42 Origen, in sum, was not rigid or rigidly consistent in the order or orders he proposed. But, quite clearly, in the force field of affection, the persons presumably living with us—parents, children, and domestics—were at the center. Fondness, on the other hand, fades with distance.

Biblical commentators and theologians of late antiquity received Origen’s notion of an ordo caritatis with enthusiasm.43 Augustine provided a dynamic version of the same model.44 Love, Augustine explained, is like a fire that first consumes the objects close to it, then those more distant. Your brother is closest to you, and he is first to be warmed by your love. Then love should be extended to neighbors, and then to strangers who do not wish you ill. “Go beyond even these,” he urged his readers, “reach the point that you love even enemies.”45 Love for those closest to us is thus a school of sentiment, from which all other loves are learned.

Moreover, this notion of an ordo caritatis explained several discomfiting passages in the New Testament, in which the founder of Christianity apparently condemns familial affections. In Matthew 10.37, Jesus asserted, “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”46 Still stronger are his words in Luke 14.26: “If any man come to me and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.”47 These passages, concluded the commentators, were not a condemnation of familial love or of self-love but rather of disordered love. The good person should love parents, wife, and children, and even himself, but only after God.

The ancient sages, in sum, both pagan and Christian, recognized in the household a community of especially strong affection. Moreover, they saw within it a place of psychological solace or refreshment. Cicero contrasted the relaxation and enjoyment deriving from domestic activities with the vexing labors of public life.48 Augustine went so far as to compare the requies temporalis, “which you find when you enter your home,” with the requies sempiterna, the “eternal rest,” to be expected in the house of God.49 He seems to make of the home a terrestrial analog to Heaven.

Much has been written in recent years about the loving or affective family as a modern, even a recent formation, about the coldness, indifference, or insensitivity that allegedly characterized domestic ties in the distant past.50 But what, then, are we to make of these sentimental passages, of many others that could be cited, from ancient authors? Unmistakably, these authors assume that persons who live together will normally love together, and that this love is the first to be learned and the last to be relinquished.

I ought not to imply that a modern set of familial sentiments emerged fully formed out of ancient Mediterranean waters. As suggested by the lack of a single name to identify it, the co-residential unit still did not show clear boundaries with or against the larger society. Augustine, for example, in his Commentary on John, was very vague in distinguishing the circles of fratres, proximi, ignoti, and inimici; in this instance, he made no mention at all of the family or domestic unit. There is little sense of polarity, still less of hostility, between the domestic and the public realms. Only the intensity, not the nature of affection, changes as one moves beyond the domestic circle. Neighbors and strangers are not viewed as heartless and menacing, only as persons whom we are justified in loving less.

Medieval commentators and theologians were equally attracted by Origen’s seminal concept of the ordocaritatis.51 In the twelfth century, in one of the earliest systematic works of medieval theology, Hugh of St. Victor proposed a simple ranking: one loved God above all, then one’s self, then “others.”52 This would be a standard ordering. If the high ranking given one’s self seems odd to us, it was because the salvation of one’s soul outranked every other value; one could not sin, for example, to aid a neighbor. Hugh’s student Richard of St. Victor, writing some time between 1152 and 1173, distinguished four degrees of what he called “violent,” meaning passionate, love. His chief interest was in the psychological states of love and not its objects. He did, however, affirm that, in the domain of human relationships, conjugal love dominates all other affective ties. It unites the married couple in “chains of peace” and makes their union “pleasing and joyous.”53

For our purposes, the most influential of all twelfth-century commentators on love and its objects was Master Peter Lombard, bishop of Paris. Probably between 1155 and 1160, he published the Four Books of Sentences, which was destined to become the standard textbook of medieval Christian theology.54 Subsequently, too, it attracted numerous commentaries.55 The Sentences include an entire chapter entitled “The Order of Loving, What Should Come before and What After.”56 Peter first examined the opinion of the ancients as to the proper ranking. His own conclusion is the following: “From the foregoing it is clearly to be concluded that a distinction is to be made in loving, so that we love different persons with a differing, not equal, affection; above all we love God, ourselves in second place, in third our parents, then our children and siblings, then domestics, finally enemies.”57 The Master’s dependence on pseudo-Ambrose, really Origen, is clear, but he also departed from him in one striking way. Origin had made clear distinctions between neighbors, whom we must love “with our whole heart,” and enemies, whom we only have to love and not hate.58 Master Peter, on the other hand, called all those beyond the domestic circle inimici, “enemies.” Wemust still love these unfriendly outsiders, but his words strongly imply that they do not love us.

Lombard’s assumption, that all beyond the domestic circle were enemies, bothered his commentators. For example, in 1245, Albert the Great argued, “Between the domestic and the enemy, there are many degrees of love, as for in‑laws, fellow citizens, godparents, and the like.”59 In his view, Master Peter must have been using the term “domestics” in a metaphorical sense to signify the entire church. By this strained interpretation, the inimici become notall those outside our households but all those outside the church. But was this really the Master’s intent?

Thomas Aquinas, in his own Commentary on the Sentences and in his Summa Theologica, seems not to discuss the question whether all persons outside the household can be called enemies.60 But he did have much to say about the “order of loving” and devoted to it an entire “Questio” of his Summa Theologica.61 He developed several distinctions between the love owed to one’s closest relatives and the love owed to neighbors. Like many commentators before him, Thomas affirmed that domestic love is marked by greater intensity, while caritas cools with distance, like heat emanating from a fire.62 Thomas further affirmed, as his predecessors seemingly had not, that love of those close to us differed in its origins from love for outsiders. Origen wrote about love among the “saints,” that is, those moved by grace. Aquinas, in a manner typical of thirteenth-century scholasticism, stressed instead nature and the natural wellsprings of human behavior. In his view, our love for those joined to us by blood relationships was founded on nature and was therefore stable and durable; in contrast, our love for those unrelated to us was based on convention and was unstable and shifting.63 Finally, the love that joins us to our closest relatives has many modes. We may count, as Thomas did not explicitly do, the ways of loving: these are the amicitia due to friends regarded as other selves, the sympathy from shared experiences that Tertullian noted, parental commitment to children, conjugal love, filial respect for parents, and so on. The love for neighbors, simple amor caritatis in Thomas’s phrase, is single stranded and necessarily weak.

Thomas did not here draw explicit distinctions between co-residential and non-residential kin, but elsewhere he showed a clear picture of the domus as the constituent element of society. “It is manifest,” he wrote, “that the domus holds an intermediate position between the individual and the city or the kingdom; for just as a single person is part of the domus, so each domus is part of the city of kingdom.”64 The domus is in turn based on three sets of relationships: lord to servant, husband to wife, father to child, all of which Thomas explored.65

Thomas further attempted to determine the order of loving among household members, although his efforts sometimes seem exercises in futility. Do parents love their children more or less than children love their parents? Parents love their children more, he concluded, for two reasons. Parents have greater certainty of who their children are than children have of who their parents are. And parents are conscious of their children for a longer time than children are conscious of their parents, and time strengthens love.

Are parents or spouses loved the more? By “reason of the good” they have wrought, parents merit greater affection, as we owe them our being. But, “by reason of the tie,” spouses are more loved, as the conjugal pair are two in one flesh; to love one’s spouse is therefore equivalent to loving one’s self. Parents, however, deserve the greater honor. Is the father or the mother to be loved more? Thomas seems uncertain here, as personal qualities enter so strongly. However, other things being equal, fathers are to be loved more, since, in the ancient and scholastic view of procreation, fathers supplied the active element in conception. Quaint though his arguments may be, Thomas clearly thought of the household as a community of affection. Moreover, the love within it is intense, natural, complex, and lasting.

If Thomas presented a rather static and detached model of society and family, his approach may mirror the relatively stable state of medieval society in the placid thirteenth century. In contrast, over the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, plagues, famines, wars, and social unrest shook the equilibrium of the medieval world and undermined the serene outlook of its thinkers. The greatest sages in that disturbed epoch tried not so much to construct abstract models of the natural order as to offer moral guidance to perplexed individuals living amid tumultuous surroundings. One theologian sensitive to moral issues was Antoninus, archbishop of Florence in the middle fifteenth century, shepherd to a large, rich, and troubled flock of merchants, bankers, and artisans. In his own Summa Theologica, Antoninus included a chapter called “De amore” (On love). In it, he examined love of God, love of self, love of children, and love of wife. Antoninus saw no need to exhort his readers to love children or spouse. Rather, he warned them repeatedly against excessive attachment to offspring, husband, or wife. Here is his denunciation of parents:

Oh how many are the parents, who because of disordered love for their children, earn damnation! Oh how many are they, who serve their children like idols! … [Making] idols of their children, they accumulate wealth by fair means or foul in order to leave them wealthy, and they are unconcerned about going to hell.66

Antoninus also condemned the tyranny of parents who prevent their children from entering the religious life. He gave expression to a longstanding ecclesiastical suspicion of parental power.

There was danger, too, in conjugal love; it was not that spouses lacked affection but, in Antoninus’s view, they often loved not wisely but too well. He cited from Augustine the salutary example of Adam who, at Eve’s request, ate the forbidden fruit “lest he displease and sadden his companion.”67 The church gave no blanket endorsement to familial sentiments.

Did these speculations of schoolmen reflect deeper changes in late medieval society? We can look for evidence of shifting attitudes toward the family to movements of popular piety. A cult of paramount interest here is that of St. Joseph, the foster father of Christ. Late ancient and early medieval piety had largely ignored Joseph. In contrast, in the late Middle Ages, he attracted considerable attention, even in lay and vernacular poetry. In the fourteenth century, French poet Eustache Deschamps composed a ballad in praise of Joseph. The poem observes that Joseph had guarded his wife and child “in great fear” and “never in this world had a holiday.”68 Eustache says to fathers everywhere

You who serve wife and infants
Ever have Joseph in your remembrance.69

Closely related to the veneration of Joseph is the cult of the Holy Family. The words Sancta Familia seem totally absent in the voluminous devotional literature antedating the fourteenth century. Artistic representations of the Holy Family also seem to date only from the fourteenth century. Eustache Deschamps reported that he had seen in many churches representations of the flight into Egypt.70

How can we explain the growing veneration of these domestic images, of the solicitous father and the small family forced to flee into a foreign land? Could it have been that many small families in the late Middle Ages felt themselves isolated and harassed, beleaguered by plague, famines, wars, and social uncertainties? The Holy Family according to its legend survived amid hostile and dangerous surroundings. For families facing similar uncertainties, perhaps its image offered a model of behavior and a promise of help.

In the late Middle Ages, this sense of an order in loving found expression in secular as well as religious writings. Lay people are, to be sure, slow to acquire voices in medieval cultural history. One place where they precociously learned to speak was Florence, capital of a new lay learning that was to culminate in humanism. In both domestic memoirs and formal treatises, Florentine writers commented extensively on the family and the sentiments associated with it. About 1360, a layman named Paolo da Certaldo included in his “Book of Good Customs” a passage on the four “greatest loves” in life. The greatest of all was love of one’s own soul, followed by love for one’s children, then for one’s wife, and finally for one’s friend. He did not mention love of God, but his ranking seems an expression in secular terms of the order proclaimed by theologians since Origen’s time.71 About 1393, an unnamed townsman of Paris instructed his wife on how she should order her affections: “you ought to be very loving and privy towards your husband above all other living creatures, moderately loving and privy towards your good and near kinsfolk in the flesh and your husband’s kinfolk, and very distant with all other men.”72 The ancient concept of degrees of loving extended beyond the ranks of the erudite.

The abundant domestic literature of late medieval Florence further indicates a sharpening division between the family’s inner circle and the surrounding society. Giovanni Morelli, a Florentine writing in the years from 1393 to 1403, instructed his descendants on how to counter the dangers of the world. One such danger was plague. The defensive perimeter he drew up encircles the family. The family also was to be taken to a safe locale and given the proper food. The family also had to be treated to the proper cultural diversions to maintain morale, even if they were costly. “Hold your family, Morelli recommended, “in pleasure and delight, and seek together with them the good and healthy life.”73

Although the menace of plague threatened the family from the outer world, there were other dangers, too. The government’s insatiable appetite for taxes and the machinations of dishonest neighbors could rain ruin on the family, if these intrusions were not countered by appropriate measures. In describing those methods, Morelli warned against trust in anyone outside the household, even seeming friends, even close relatives. “Strangers I call them,” he pronounced, “since where money is involved or any property, there can be found neither relative nor friend who loves you more than he does himself.”74 He continued: “A relative or friend will remain for as long as your property and status shall last, whence he thinks to gain some profit.”75 Morelli would have agreed with Peter Lombard’s blunt assessment that, beyond the domestic circle, there are only enemies.

But, if the Florentine family felt threatened by disease, taxes, and pervasive dishonesty, its members seem to have developed a stronger sense of internal cohesion and seem to have found, or hoped to find, in their companionship essential rest and refreshment. Giannozzo Alberti, the sage who dominates the third book of Leon Battista Alberti’s FourBooks on the Family, urged the young Alberti males to eschew public office and government honors. “My children,” he advised, “let us remain happy with our little family.”76 He uses here the diminutive form, famigliola, clearly implying affection. This seems a novel usage. The Latin equivalent of the word, familiola, meant in classical times only a small band of slaves. Alberti means by it a dear and loving group of parents and children, clearly separated from the outer world and emotionally independent of it.

What explains the new and wide division between household and society evident in these Florentine texts? The real change, as I see it, was less in the family itself—always thought to be a community of affection—than in the apprehension of external society as hostile and demanding. Governments were becoming better organized, more powerful, and, through their taxes and policies, more intrusive than ever into the domestic realm. The family itself was coming to rely more and more for its support on cash transactions. Contractual obligations and cash connections now linked households within the larger society. But loan oft loses friend, and so might every other type of monetary transaction.

The unnamed citizen of Paris told of a couple who drew up a nuptial agreement, stipulating their separate rights and duties.77 One day, the husband fell into a river and called upon his wife to save him from drowning. The wife consulted the agreement and found no clause obligating her to rescue a drowning spouse. She let him sink, though others finally saved him. The moral here seems clear: contract and cash, which govern relationships in the outer world, should not do so within the family. By the end of the Middle Ages, at least in certain areas and certain classes of European society, the family had become a moral unity and a moral universe, in the sense I have defined.

Of course, the evolution of family structures and cultures continued after the Middle Ages ended. Styles of domesticity, the set of values and expectations associated with it, have changed across modern times even as lifestyles change. The tension between the family and the greater society has also waxed and waned, according to shifting patterns of politics and modes of private behavior. Many of these fluctuations in modern family history have been studied in what is now a vast literature.78

Nonetheless, the ancient and medieval origins of many contemporary attitudes toward the family need to be recognized. Still today, the family seems to some a prison. For them, it preserves its ancient meaning as a band of slaves; it continues to reflect the emphasis on authority written into its distant past. To others, it seems a haven, a refuge in which the furious pace of getting and spending is slackened, the burden of affairs is lightened, tensions are eased, enmities forgotten. For these, as for Augustine long ago, the family is requies. Still others argue that the traditional family, based on monogamy and child rearing, does not meet their own emotional needs, that other forms of domestic partnerships should be accepted. They question only the universal applicability of one definition of the family, not the value of the supportive and recreative functions the small domestic community has long provided. The cult and culture of the modern family, its problems, too, have traces running deep into ancient and medieval history, which here in part I have tried to follow.

David Herlihy received his PhD from Yale in 1956, and was a professor Brown University at the time of his presidency. He passed away a month after delivering this address. His most important publications include Pisa in the Early Renaissance: A Study of Urban Growth (1958), Medieval and Renaissance Pistoia: The Social History of an Italian Town (1967), and Medieval Households (1985).



  1. André Gide, Nourritures terrestres, 4: 1, cited in Dictionnaire alphabétique et analogique de la langue française, Paul Robert, ed. (Paris, 1966), 10: 830. He later explained: “Sans doute, j’écrivais un jour: ‘Familles, je vous hais,’ mais il s’agit d’institutions, non de personnes, et ce n’est pas du tout la même chose”; Journal, 1168, cited in Trésor de la langue française (Paris, 1980), 8: 635. See also A History of Private Life, Philippe Ariès and Georges Duby, gen. eds., Vol. 4:From the Fires of Revolution to the Great War, Michelle Perrot, ed. (Cambridge, Mass., 1990), 241. []
  2. Paul Goodman, cited in Jon Winokur, The Portable Curmudgeon (New York, 1987), 98. []
  3. From Philip Larkin, “This Be the Verse,” in High Windows (New York, 1974), 30. []
  4. Cited in The Providence Journal (January 24, 1990): 1. The author of the decision was justice Thomas F. Kelleher. []
  5. See most recently the remarkable survey of medieval canon law bearing on sexual and marital issues by James A. Brundage, Love, Sex, and Christian Society in Medieval Europe (Chicago, 1987). []
  6. The Oxford English Dictionary, 2d edn. (Oxford, 1989), 5: 707, cites its use in circa 1400 in the sense of servants. Compare its use in Scottish dialect as a community of consumers in Bernardus de cura rei famuliaris with Some Early Scottish Prophecies, etc., J. Rawson Lumby, ed. (London, 1870), 4: “Fede nocht thi famel with costly victuale.” The translation is of the fifteenth century. Altfranzösisches Wörterbuch, A. Tobler and E. Lormatzsch, eds. (Berlin, 1925– ), 3.2 (1952), col. 1622, cites its appearance in the poems of Gilles li Muisis and in Statutes of Lille from the fourteenth century. Deutsches Wörterbuch (Berlin, 1940), 2: 289, notes an appearance (in the form Familien) in 1564, but it does not become common until at least a century later. []
  7. On the word’s origins, see R. Henrion, “Des origines du mot Familia,” L’Antiquité classique, 10 (1941): 37–69; 11 (1942): 253–90. M. R. Leonhard, “Familia,” Paulys Realencyclopädie der classischen Altertumswissenschaft, Georg Wissowa, ed. (Stuttgart, 1909), 6: cols. 1980–85. []
  8. See the comment by Ulpian, Digest, 50.16.195. The Digest of Justinian: Latin Text Edited by Theodor Mommsen with the Aid of Paul Krueger, trans. and ed. by Thomas Watson (Philadelphia, 1985), 4: 949: “Familiae appellatio … varie accepta est: nam et in res et in personas deducitur.” The Codex Justinianus (6.38.5) states “we discern that the name of family has the following force: parents and children and all relatives and property, freedmen also and their patrons and likewise slaves are identified by this word”; Corpus Iuris Civilis, Paul Krüger, Theodor Mommsen, Rudolf Schoell, and Wilhelm Kroll, eds., 3 vols. (Berlin, 1928), 2: 571. []
  9. Sexti Pompei Festi, De verborum, significatu quae supersunt cum Pauli Epitome, W. M. Lindsay, ed. (Leipzig, 1933), 77, ll. 11–12: “Famuli origo ab Oscis dependet, apud quos servus famel nominabatur, unde et familia nostra.” []
  10. Apuleius, Pro se de magia liber (apologia), Rudolf Helm, ed. (Leipzig, 1959), 47.437: “XV liberi homines populus est, totidem serui familia, totidem uincti ergastulum.” []
  11. Ulpian, Digest, 50.16.195: “servitium quoque solemus appellere familias.” []
  12. S. Gregorii Magni Moralia in Job Libri I–X, Marcus Adrizen, ed. (Turnhout, 1979), 1.3: “Multam nimis familiam possidemus cum cogitationes innumeras sub mentis dominatione restringimus, ne ipsa sui multitudine animum superent.” []
  13. Gregorii I Papae Registrum epistolarum, 1.42 (Munich, 1978), 1: 64: “si quis ex familia [colonis] culpam fecerit.” []
  14. Dizionario di erudizione storico-ecclesiastica, Gaetano Moroni, ed. (Venice, 1843), 23:27 and following, entry under “Famiglia pontificia.” []
  15. Ulpian, Digest, 50.16.195: “iure proprio familiam dicimus plures personas, quae sunt sub unius potestate aut natura aut iure subiectae.” []
  16. Julius Caesar, De bello Gallico i.4, The Gallic War, H. J. Edwards, trans. (Cambridge, Mass., 1979), 9: “Orgetorix ad iudicium omnem suam familiam, ad hominum milia X, undique coegit et omnes clientes obaeratosque suos … eodemconduxit.” Edwards translates “familiam” as “retainers.” []
  17. See numerous examples in the Thesaurus linguae Latinae, vol. 4, pt. 1 (Leipzig, 1892–1926), cols. 234–46. For the “familia ecclesiastica,” see Gregory the Great, Regestum epistolarum, 1.42 (May 591) (1.67): “Si vero ex familia ecclesiastica sacerdotes vel levitae vel monachi vel clerici vel quilibet alii lapsi fuerint.” For the sense of descent group, compare Bede, Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum 1.7, Opera historica, J. E. King, trans. (Loeb Classical Library; Cambridge, Mass., 1963), 1: 38: “Cuius, inquit, familiae vel generis es?” []
  18. St. Augustine of Hippo, De civitate Dei, i.29, The City of God against the Pagans, George E. McCracken, trans. (Loeb Classical Library; Cambridge, Mass., 1981), 1: 122: “Quid familia Christi respondere debent infidelibus … Habet itaque omnis familia summi et veri Dei.” []
  19. Lucii Caecilii De mortibus persecutorum Liber vulgo Lactantio tributus, L. Caeli Firmiani Lactanti Opera omnia, Samuel Brandt and Georgius Laubmann, eds. (Prague, Vienna, and Leipzig, 1897), cap. 21 (p. 196): “nam post deuictos Persas, quorum hic ritus, hic mos est, ut regibus suis in seruitiurn se addicant et reges populo suo tamquam familia utantur, hunc morem nefarius homo in Romanam terram uoluit inducere.” There is an English translation of this work in Lactantius, The Minor Works, Sister Mary Francis McDonald O.P., trans. (Washington, 1965), 117–203. []
  20. Aulus Gellius, Nodes Atticae 2.2.9, P. K. Marshall, ed., 2 vols. (Oxford, 1968), 1: 86: “sed cum extra rem publicam in domestica re atque uita sedeatur, ambuletur, in conuiuio quoque familiari discumbatur, tum inter filium magistratum et patrem priuatim publicos honores cessare, naturales et genuinos exepiri.” []
  21. Corpus Justianum, edn. Krüger, Mommsen, Schoell, and Kroll, 2: 571: “In aliis autem casibus nomen familiae pro substantia oportet intellegi, quia et servi et aliae res in patrimonio uniuscuiusque esse putantur.” []
  22. See, for example, Bede, Historia ecclesiastica 1.15, Opera historica, trans. King, 1: 106, in relation to the Isle of Thanet: “magnitudinis iuxta consuetudinem aestimationis Anglorum, familiarum sexcentarum”; compare ibid. 4.23, “locum unius familiae”; 2: 128. []
  23. Paolo da Certaldo, Libro di buoni customi, no. 142, in Mercanti scrittoti: Ricordi nella Firenze tra Medioevo e Rinascimento, Vittore Branca, ed., 2d edn. (Milan, 1986), 31–32: “E anche, perché la famiglia sempre cresce, però si vuole avanzare e mettere innanzi quanto puoi con giusto modo.” []
  24. For examples of the word’s many meanings, see the entry “domus” in the Thesaurus Linguae Latine (Leipzig, 1909–34), 5: 1, cols. 1949–87. []
  25. Aulus Gellius, Noctes Atticae, 13.10.3, edn. Marshall, 2: 393: “Soror,” inquit, “appellata est, quod quasi seorsum nascitur separaturque ab ea domo in qua nata est et in aliarn familiam transgreditur.” []
  26. Augustin Sermo 170.4, Patrologia Latina, J. P. Migne, ed. (Paris, 1861), 38: col. 920: “Quomodo dicitur domus habitatores domus … domum appellans non parietes et receptacula corporum, sed ipsos habitatores.” []
  27. Isidori hispalensis episcopi etymologiarum sive originum libri XX, W. M. Lindsay, ed., 2 vols. (Oxford, 1911), 9.4.3: “Domus unius familiae habitaculum est, sicut urbs unius populi, sicut orbis domicilium totius generis humani. Est enim domus genus, familia sive coniunctio viri et uxoris. Incipit a duobus, et est nomen Graecum.” []
  28. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica (hereafter, ST) 2.2.2, Opera omnia (Rome, 1897), 9: 81, “Pater autem et dominus, qui praesunt familiae domesticae”; ibid., 2.2.47, Opera omnia (Rome, 1895), 8: 359: “oeconomica, quae est de his quae pertinent ad bonum commune domus vel familiae.” []
  29. See, for example, Aquinas, ST 2.2.2, Opera omnia, 9: 81: “Pater autem et dominus, qui praesunt familiae domesticae, quae est imperfecta communitas, habent imperfectam potestatem coercendi secundum leviores poenas, quae non inferunt irreparabile nocumenturn. Et huiusmodi est verberatio.” []
  30. Aquinas, ST 3.8.1 2d 2., Opera omnia (Rome, 1903), 11: 127: “aliqua multitudo ordinata, est pars alterius multitudinis. Et ideo paterfamilias qui est caput multitudinis domesticae, habet super se rectorem civitatis.” []
  31. Aquinas, ST 1.2.105, Opera omnia (Rome, 1892), 7: 271. []
  32. Cicero, Laelius de amicitia, 8.27, De senectute, De amicitia, De divinatione, William A. Falconer, trans. (Loeb Classical Library; Cambridge, Mass., 1964), 138: “Quod in homine multo est evidentius, primum ex ea caritate quae est inter natos et parentes, quae dirimi nisi detestabili scelere non potest.” []
  33. Suetonius, Caligula, De vita Caesarum, 4.15.3, Suetonius, J. C. Rolfe, trans. (Loeb Classical Library; Cambridge, Mass., 1970), 1: 424. “He caused the names of his sisters to be included in all oaths: ‘And I will not hold myself and my children dearer than I do Gaius and his sisters.’” []
  34. Augustine, De genesi ad litteram, 11.42, Joseph Zucha, ed. (Prague, Vienna, and Leipzig, 1894), 378: “[Adam] noluit eam contristare … non quidem carnis uictus concupiscentia, quam nondum senserat in resistente lege membrorum legi mentis suae, sed amicali quadam beniuolentia, qua plerumque fit, ut offenditur deus, ne homo ex amico fiat inimicus.” See also De civitate Dei, 14.11, The City of God against the Pagans, Philip Levine, trans. (Loeb Classical Library; Cambridge, Mass., 1966), 4: 330. Adam obeyed for reason of friendship, “sociale necessitudine.” There is an English translation, The Literal Meaning of Genesis, John Hammond Taylor, S.J., trans. (New York, 1982). []
  35. Tertullian, De paenitentia, 10.4, J. G. Ph. Borleffs, ed. (Turnhout, 1954), 1: 237: “Inter fratres atque conservos, ubi communis spes, metus, gaudium, dolor, passio, quia communis spiritus de communi domino et patre, quid tu hos aliud quam te opinaris.” Elsewhere, Tertulian used “fratres et conservos” to refer to himself and his wife; Ad uxorem 2.7, A. Kroymann, ed. (Turnhout, 1954), 2: 393: “quale iugum fidelium duorum unius spei, unius uoti, unius disciplinae, eiusdem servitutis! Ambo fratres, ambo conserui, nuila spiritus carnisue discretio.” []
  36. Augustine, De doctrina Christiana, Prooemium, 6, Joseph Martin, ed., in Aurelii Augustini opera, 4.1 (Turnhout, 1962), 4: “Deinde ipsa caritas, quae sibi homines inuicem nodo unitatis adstringit, non haberet aditum refundendorum et quasi miscendorum sibimet animorum, si homines per homines nihil discerent.” []
  37. Augustine, In Iohannis … evangelium tractatus CXXIV, R. Willems, O.S.B., ed. (Turnhout, 1984), 348: “multae animae per charitatem una anima est et multa corda unum cor.” There is an Englishtranslation, Lectures or Tractates on the Gospel according to John, Marcus Dods, D.D., trans., 2 vols. (Edinburgh, 1873). []
  38. Augustine, De civitate Dei, 14.28, The City of God, trans. Levine, 4: “Fecerunt itaque civitates duas amores duo.” See also in his Commentary on the Psalms 64.2, Patrologia Latina, edn. Migne, 36: col. 223: “Duas istas civitates faciunt duo amores: Jerusalem facit amor Dei; Babyloniam facit amor seculi.” []
  39. The standard edition of the commentary, and the two homilies is Origen, Homilien zu Samuel I zum Hohelied und an den Propheten: Kommentar zu Hohelied in Rufins und Hieronymus Uebersetzungen, W. A. Baehrens, ed. (Leipzig, 1925). The two homilies, which seem to have circulated more widely than the commentary, are printed in Latin with a French translation in Origen, Homélies sur le Cantique des Cantiques: Introduction, traduction et notes by Dom Olivier Rousseau, O.S.B., 2d edn. (Paris, 1966). There is an English translation of these works in Origen, The Song of Songs: Commentary and Homilies, R. P. Lawson, trans. (Westminister, Md., and London, 1957). []
  40. Cant. Cantic. Liber 3, Homilien, edn. Baehrens, 186: “Omnes homines amant sine dubio aliquid et nullus est, qui ad id aetatis venerit, ut amare iam possit, et non aliquid amet.” []
  41. Origenes in Cant. Cantic. Homilia 2.8, Homilien, edn. Baehrens, 52: “Ut autem post Deum etiam inter nos ordo ponatur, primum mandatum, ut ‘diligamus’ parentes, secundum ut filios, tertium ut domesticos nostros.” []
  42. Ibid., 188–89: “Et maiore quidem cum honorificentia matri deferenda dilectio est, sequenti vero gradu cum quadam nihilominus reverentia etiam sororibus. Proprio vero quodam et sequestrato ab his more caritas coniugibus exhibenda. Post has vero personas pro meritis etiam et causis uniquiclue in omni, ut supradiximus, castitate deferenda dilectio est. Secundum haec vero etiam de patre vel fratre atque ahis propinquis observabimus.” []
  43. See Hélène Pétré, Caritas: Etude sur le vocabulaire latin de la charité chrétienne (Louvain, 1948). []
  44. Most particularly in Augustine, In epistolam Iohannis ad Parthos tractatus decem 8.10, translated as Commentaire de la première épître de S. Jean, Paul Agaësse, S.J., trans. (Paris, 1961), 346. See Jacques Gallay, La Charité fraternelle selon les “Tractatus in Primam Johannis” de St. Augustin (Lyon, 1953). []
  45. Augustine, In epistolam Iohannis 8.10: “Transcende et ipsos; perveni, ut diligas inimicos.” Earlier, he stated, “Qui usque ad inimicos pervenit, non transilit fratres” (Who reaches enemies does not skip over brothers). []
  46. The Vulgate text of Matth. 10.37 is: “Qui amat patrem et matrem super me, non est me dignus; qui amat filium aut filiam super me, non est me dignus.” []
  47. Luc. 14.26: “Si quis venit ad me, et non odit patrem et matrem et uxorem et filios et fratres et sorores adhuc autem et animam suam non potest meus esse discipulus.” []
  48. M. Tulli Ciceronis epistulae, Vol. 2: Epistulae ad Atticum, L. C. Pursen, ed. (Oxford, 1958), 9.10.3: “et, ut verum loquar, aetas iam a diuturnis laboribus devexa ad otium domesticarum me rerum delectatione mollivit.” []
  49. Augustine, In epistolam Iohannis tractatus decem 10.9: “Domum tuam intras propter requiem temporalem, domum Dei intras propter requiem sempiternam. Si ergo in domo tua, ne quid peruersum satagis, in domo Dei ubi salus proposita est et requies sine fine, debes pati quantum in te est, si quid forte peruersum videris?” []
  50. On the alleged “sentimentalizing,” see Edward Shorter, The Making of the Modern Family (New York, 1975). On the “affective” family, see also Lawrence Stone, The Family, Sex and Marriage in England, 1500–1800 (New York, 1977). A recent statement of this view may be found in Philippe Ariès, “Introduction,” A History of Private Life, Philippe Ariès and Georges Duby, gen. eds., Vol. 3: The Passions of the Renaissance, Roger Chartier, ed. (Cambridge, Mass., 1989), 8: “Ultimately [in the eighteenth century] the family became the focus of private life … It became something it had never been: a refuge, to which people fled in order to escape the scrutiny of outsiders; an emotional center; and a place where, for better or for worse, children were the focus of attention.” For the most recent of many criticisms of Ariès’s thesis on the supposed failure in the past to recognize children as children, see Shulamith Shahar, Childhood in the Middle Ages (London, 1990). []
  51. Pierre Rousselot, Pour l’histoire du problème de l’amour au Moyen Age (Münster, 1908). Rousselot found a distinction in the medieval authors between “physical” (that is, natural) and “ecstatic” (mystical) love. His chief interest was in the latter. []
  52. Hugh of St. Victor, Summa Sententiarum Tract. 4.2., cap. 7, Patrologia Latina, J. C. Migne, ed. (Paris, 1880), 176, col. 126: “Et in hoc etiam potest ordo charitatis considerari; quia Deum prae omnibus diligere debemus … post ipsum nos ipsos, tertio loco alios.” This tract is traditionally attributed to Hugh. []
  53. Richard of St. Victor, Epître à Severin sur la charité, par Ives; Les Quatre degrés de la violente charité: Texte critique avec introduction, traduction et notes, Gervais Dumeige, ed. (Paris, 1955), 145: “Mutuus nanique intimi amoris affectus inter fedeatos pacis vincula adstringit, et indissolubilem illam perpetuandam que societate gratam et jocundam reddit.” This passage is from the “De IV gradibus violentae caritatis.” According to Gervais, Bernard of Clairvaux is more likely than Richard to have been the author of the letter to Severinus. Other twelfth-century theologians who commented extensively on love were William of St.-Thierry and Peter of Blois, but their interests tended to be again in the psychological stages of love and not its different objects. See also Gervais Dumeige, Richard de Saint-Victor et l’idée chrétienne de I’amour (Paris, 1952). []
  54. Magistri Petri Lombardi Sententiae in IV Libris distinctae (Rome, 1981). []
  55. For an inventory, see F. Stegmüller, Repertorium commentariorum in Sententias Petri Lombardi, 2 vols. (Würzburg, 1947). []
  56. “De ordine diligendi, quid prius, quid posterius”; Sententiae, 2.174. []
  57. Ibid.: “Ecce ex praernissis aperte insinuatur quae in affectu charitatis distinctio sit habenda; ut differenti affectu, non pari, homines diligamus, et ante omnia Deum; secundo nosipsos, tertio parentes, inde filios et fratres, post domesticos, demum inimicos diligamus. Sed inquunt illi, quae de ordine dilectionis supra dicuntur, esse referenda ad operum exhibitionem, quae differenter proximis exhibenda sunt. Primo parentibus, inde filiis, post domesticos, demum inimicos.” []
  58. Origen, Homélies, trans. Rousseau, 94: “nec dicit ‘diligite inimicos vestros’ ut vosmetipsos, sed tantum: ‘diligite inimicos vestros.’ Sufficit eis quod eos ‘diligimus’ et odio non habemus.” []
  59. B. Alberti Magni … Opera omnia, St. C. A. Borgnet, ed. (Paris, 1894), 28: 547: “Inter domesticum et inimicurn sunt multi gradus, scilicet affinis, concivis, compaternalis, et hujusmodi.” Albert further observed that the circle of loved ones up to domestics constituted a societas ex convictu, a community of those eating together, a domus or household. []
  60. See S Thomae Aquinatis Scriptum super Sententiis, M. F. Moos, O.P., ed. (Paris, 1956), 3: 918–49, for his comment on Book 3, question 39 of the Sentences. For comment on Thomas’s views, see Louis Bertrand Geiger, Le Problème de l’amour chez saint Thomas d’Aquin (Montreal, 1952). []
  61. Aquinas, ST 2.2.q.26, Opera omnia (Rome, 1895), 8: 209–23. []
  62. Aquinas, ST 2.2.q.27, a.7, Opera omnia, 8: 230: “Ergo diligere amicum est magis meritorium quarn diligere inimicum … Sed sicut idem ignis in propinquiora fortius agit quam in remotiora, ita etiam caritas ferventius diligit coniunctos quam remotos.” []
  63. Ibid., a.8, 8: 218: “Si autem comparemus coniunctionem ad coniunctionem, constat quod coniunctio naturalis originis est prior et immobilior: quia est secundum id quod pertinet ad substantiam; aliae autem coniunctiones sunt supervenientes, et removeri possunt … Et ideo amicitia consanguineorum est stabilior…. Amicitia tamen consanguineorum est in his quae ad naturam spectant.” []
  64. Aquinas, ST, Opera omnia, 8: 376: “Manifestum est autem quod domus medio modo se habet inter unam singularem personam et civitatem vel regnum: nam sicut una singularis persona est pars domus, ita una domus est pars civitatis vel regni.” []
  65. Aquinas, ST, Opera omnia, 7: 271: “Sic igitur in domestica communione sunt tres combinationes: scilicet domini ad servum, viri ad uxorem, patris ad filium.” []
  66. Aquinas, ST tit. 5, cap. 2, “De amore” (1: 432): “O quot sunt parentes, qui propter inordinatum amorem ad filios, damnationem incurrunt! O quot sunt, qui eis quasi idolis inserviunt! Et nota, quod idololatria habuit initium ab inordinato amore parentum in filios, et e converso. Nam Ninus, qui aedificavit Ninivem, mortuo Bello patre suo,… Sic multi faciunt de filiis idola. Nam, ut dimittant eos divites, congregant per fas et nefas, nec curant ire ad infernum.” []
  67. Ibid.: “non quia credidit se per hoc similem Deo futurum, sed ne displiceret et contristaret sociam, ductus non amore concupiscentiae, quae adhuc non erat in eo, sed amore sociali, quo timet quia non offendet amicum suum, ut dicit Augustinus.” []
  68. Oeuvres complètes de Eustache Deschamps, Le Marquis de Queux de Saint-Hilaire, ed. (Paris, 1878), 1: 277–78 (no. 150): “Mere et enfant garda en grant doubtance … Et si n’ot oncq feste en ce monde ci.” The allusion to a holiday may reflect the efforts of such prominent churchmen as Jean Gerson, chancellor of the University of Paris, to have Joseph honored by a major feast day in the church calendar. []
  69. Ibid.: “Vous qui servez a femme et a enfans/Aiez Joseph toudis en remembrance.” []
  70. Ibid.: “En pluseurs lieux est figuré ainsi, Lez un mulet, pour leur fair plaisance.” []
  71. Paolo da Certaldo, Libro di buoni costumi, cap. 156, edn. Branca, 37: “I maggiori amori che sieno si sono quattro: it primo si è quello de l’anima tua, it secondo si è quello de’ tuoi figh, it terzo si è quello de la tua donna, cioè delta buona moglie, lo quarto si è da l’uno amico a l’altro.” []
  72. The Goodman of Paris (Le Ménagier de Paris): A Treatise on the Moral and Domestic Economy by a Citizen of Paris (c. 1393), Eileen Power, trans. (London, 1928), 107. []
  73. Giovani Morelli, Ricordi, V. Branca, ed. (Florence, 1969), 213–14: “tieni in diletto e in piacere la tua famiglia e fa con loro insieme buona e sana vita.” []
  74. Morelli, Ricordi, 173: “Istrani gli chiamo, perché dove giuoca pecunia o alcuno bene proprio, né parente né amico si truova che voglia meglio a te che a sé, disposta la buona coscienza da parte.” []
  75. Ibid.: “Peró che tanto basta it parente e l’amico quanto ti basterà l’avere e lo stato dove e’ penserà trarre utilità.” []
  76. Leon Battista Alberti, Opera omnia, Cecil Grayson, ed. (Bari, 1960), 1: 1982, 182: “Figliuoli miei, stiamoci in sul piano, e diamo opera d’essere buoni e giusti massai. Stiànci lieti colla famigliuola nostra, dodiànci quelli beni ci largisce la fortuna faccendone parte alli amici nostri, ché assai si trouva onorato chi vive senza vizio e senza disonestà.” []
  77. The Goodman of Paris, trans. Power, 138. []
  78. The recent, collaborative History of Private Life, Vol. 4: From the Fires of Revolution to the Great War, is devoted almost entirely to the family, especially in France. Also see Michael Mitterauer and Reinhold Sieder, The European Family, Karla Osterveen and Manfred Hörzinger, trans. (Oxford, 1982); and Histoire de la famille, André Burgière, Christiane Klapisch-Zuber, Martine Segalen, and Françoise Zonabend, eds., Vol. 1: Mondes lointains, mondes anciens; Vol. 2: Le Choc des modernites (Paris, 1986). For relations of the family with kin and community, see Peter Laslett, “Family, Kinship and Collectivity as Systems of Support in Pre-Industrial Europe: A Consideration of the ‘Nuclear-Hardship’ Hypothesis,” Continuity and Change, 3 (1988): 153–75. []