Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index


  • Record Number: 22756
  • Author(s)/Creator(s): Clarke , Peter
  • Contributor(s):
  • Title: The Papal Penitentiary and Marriage: Popular Knowledge of Law and Procedure
  • Source: Western Canon Law and Eastern Churches: Thirteenth International Congress of Medieval Canon Law. Abstracts.. 2008.  Pages 28
  • Description:
  • Article Type: Conference Paper Abstract
  • Subject (See Also): Canon Law Marriage Papal Penitentiary
  • Geographic Area: British Isles
  • Century: 15- 16
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  • Abstract: Medieval marriage is the subject of an ever expanding historiography. Much of the recent literature has concentrated on the impact and application of the Western Church's marriage rules. This has largely indicated an increasing lay awareness of and compliance with such rules. This paper focuses on new evidence that adds to this picture: the registers of the papal penitentiary. The papal penitentiary was the highest office in the later medieval Church concerned with matters of conscience. It granted various papal favours; successful requests for these are recorded in its registers of supplications which survive from 1410 to 1569. The registers indicate that from the mid-fifteenth century a growing body of petitioners sought dispensations from marital impediments, notably consanguinity and affinity. This suggests that such dispensations were more widely available than has often been assumed. This paper will be limited to evidence from the registers concerning England and Wales, for it arises from a project to edit such material for publication. It will focus on two case-studies that illustrate how the penitentiary's decisions were applied on the ground and how popular awareness of such procedures was sometimes limited. It further indicates the importance of combining study of the penitentiary material with local sources, in particular original letters of the penitentiary in local archives and episcopal registers containing copies of such letters and other material concerning them. The letters were issued in response to petitions and often add substantially to information in the penitentiary registers. [Reproduced by the author's permission.]
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  • Conference Info: - , -
  • Year of Publication: 2008.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN/ISBN: Not Available
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