Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index


  • Record Number: 7685
  • Author(s)/Creator(s): Finch , Andrew John.
  • Contributor(s):
  • Title: Sexual Morality and Canon Law: The Evidence of the Rochester Consistory Court [the Church court imposed public penance, including public beatings, for fornication, adultery, and incest].
  • Source: Journal of Medieval History 20, 3 (September 1994): Pages 261 - 275.
  • Description:
  • Article Type: Journal Article
  • Subject (See Also): Adultery Canon Law Clergy- Sexual Behavior Courts of Law, Ecclesiastical Marriage Penance Punishment Rochester, Kent, England Sexuality
  • Geographic Area: British Isles
  • Century: 14
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  • Abstract: Material which survives from the Rochester consistory court during the middle years of the fourteenth century makes it possible to examine the manner in which canon legal theory on offences against sexual morality was implemented in practice. The officials at Rochester were adhering to general canon legal principles by assigning penance according to a 'hierarchy of sin', and they were using the discretion allowed to them to make individual judgments in each case. The use of penances other than penitential beatings was related both to contemporary views on the suitability of different forms of penance for those in authority, and to the actual gravity of an offence. Priests' delicts were regarded more seriously than those of the laity. The court did not display any bias against women when assigning penance, and often treated men more harshly. [Reprinted from Journal of Medieval History 20, Finch, "Sexual morality and canon law: The evidence of the Rochester consistory court," 261, 1994, with permission from Elsevier Science.]
  • Author's Affiliation: University of Essex
  • Conference Info: - , -
  • Year of Publication: 1994.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN/ISBN: 03044181
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