Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index


  • Record Number: 9642
  • Author(s)/Creator(s): Murray , Jacqueline.
  • Contributor(s):
  • Title: On the Origins and Role of 'Wise Women' in Causes For Annulment on the Grounds of Male Impotence [Article includes an abstract. Title note supplied by Feminae.].
  • Source: Journal of Medieval History 16, 3 ( 1990): Pages 235 - 249.
  • Description:
  • Article Type: Journal Article
  • Subject (See Also): Annulment Courts of Law, Ecclesiastical Impotence Law Marriage Sexuality Social History Women in Active Roles
  • Geographic Area: British Isles
  • Century: 13- 14- 15
  • Related Resources:
  • Primary Evidence:
  • Illustrations: One Illustration. Figure One shows two women presenting an impotent man to a judge.
  • Table:
  • Abstract: by 1215 the medieval Church's doctrine of marriage was established. The requirements for and impediments to marriage had been articulated and ecclesiastical courts began to enforce the canon laws governing marriage. One of the impediments to the formation of the bond was male impotence. This impediment posed difficulties to the courts, which used a variety of means to substantiate the allegation. One innovation of English origin was the use of wise women to examine the husband. How this practice developed and later spread to other parts of Europe can be explained by piecing together fragments of evidence from ecclesiastical courts, confessors' manuals, and other sources. The use of wise women helped to alleviate the problems which such cases could pose and, in the process, gave women a prominent role in the legal system. This investigation provides insights into the social and psychological as well as legal contexts of sexuality in the Middle Ages.
  • Author's Affiliation: University of Windsor
  • Conference Info: - , -
  • Year of Publication: 1990.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN/ISBN: 03044181
  • Material/Technique :
  • Rights: