This study of marriages made in Middle English romance argues that women’s enthusiasm for marriage is largely a narrative fiction sustained by successive generations of sentimental readers. Literary scholars of romance who oppose the tendency of historians to exaggerate the lovelessness of dynastic medieval marriages have themselves been seduced by the affective discourse of desire. Freedom of choice can neither be inferred from nor equated with consent to marry. Women’s wishes are ignored in the narratives, their legal rights infringed, their consent contrived. The study investigates the legal and social provisions for marriage in a wide range of non-Chaucerian romances of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries; the textual evidence of misogamy – antipathy to marriage – found among females; virgin martyrs as role models of resistance; the narrative methods of overcoming the wilful refusal to wed. Female misogamy is read against the historical background of the seismic shift in clerical and social attitudes to marriage, from early Christian proscription to late medieval civic prescription. The findings will be of interest to literary and social historians of marriage.