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Marriage on Trial

Marriage on Trial

Ludwig Schmugge
Translated by Atria A. Larson
  • Book Info
    Marriage on Trial
    Book Description:

    This work vividly describes many of the individual cases and offers new insight into the social and legal pressures on marriage in the Middle Ages.

    eISBN: 978-0-8132-2018-5
    Subjects: History, Religion

Table of Contents

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  1. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  2. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Translatorʹs Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
    Atria A. Larson
  4. Preface to the English Translation
    (pp. xi-xvi)
    Ludwig Schmugge
  5. Acknowledgments for the German Edition
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
    Ludwig Schmugge
  6. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. xix-xxi)
  7. [Illustration]
    (pp. xxii-xxii)
  8. Introduction
    (pp. 1-3)

    In his work on marriage (1530), Martin Luther called ʺmarriage an external, worldly matter.ʺ¹ Rarely had the reformer made such a fundamental mistake, for from the middle of the twelfth century the Roman Church counted the marital union of man and woman among the seven sacraments, had placed it under its special protection, thoroughly regulated betrothal and divorce with canon law, and laid down norms for sexual behavior in and outside of marriage. Perhaps the Wittenberg reformer wanted merely to formulate a program, be provocative, and make an issue of an essential area of the influence of the ʺpapist church.ʺ...

  9. 1 The Treasures of the Papal Pardon Office
    (pp. 4-54)

    Thousands of highly interesting documents are kept in thick, red volumes of registers in a separate division of the Vatican Secret Archives in Rome. They come from the papal penitentiary, the most important administrative office of the Roman curia next to the chancery and camera. The volumes contain written requests for pardon, called supplications, which are of singular value for European history in the late Middle Ages. Those who wrote the requests for pardon were laymen and clerics from all parts of Christendom. Why did these people ask for pardon from the pope? The answer is simple: each writer of...

  10. 2 Marriage Law in the Supplications
    (pp. 55-98)

    Before we let the sources themselves give expression to piteous, exciting, sometimes almost unbelievable, and occasionally scandalous stories, the reader may ask whether Martin Luther, in his provocative claim cited at the beginning, was not right after all. Why in the world should the distant Roman pope be the court of highest instance for married couples in Cologne, Magdeburg, Augsburg, Constance, or Chur? If the church did get mixed up in questions of marriage, then why didnʹt the jurisdiction lie with the parish priest or, at the highest level, with the local bishop? The answer to this question has to...

  11. 3 Stories from the Roman Supplications
    (pp. 99-249)

    In a famous decretal with the incipit Per venerabilem (X 4.17.13), Pope Innocent III (1198–1216) had determined that the successor of Peter was empowered, even obligated, to interfere everywhere in a regulatory and penal way where there was sinful conduct (ratione peccati), even when the sinners were emperors and kings. One should not be surprised, then, that the bishops, the successors of the other apostles called to support the pope (in partem sollicitudinis), and the spiritual courts assigned to them stigmatized, charged, and endeavored to do away with all bad behavior in the field of marriage and family. To...

  12. 4 Marriage Processes in German Courts
    (pp. 250-336)

    In the satirical poem playing in the Alemannian region around 1400, ʺThe Ring,ʺ by the advocate Heinrich Wittenwiler of Constance, the poet has his protagonists, the young peasants Bertschi Triefnas and a certain Mätzli, get married in the company of friends and relatives, but an (= ohne) schuolern und an phaffen, which means, without the involvement of the church. When the two later asked their priest for the ecclesiastical ceremonial celebration (sollemnisatio) of their marriage, he let a forcefully severe sermon loose on the congregation from the pulpit:

    Listen up, you ladies and lads!

    Know this: it is the canon...

  13. 5 Conclusion
    (pp. 337-352)

    The Roman curia, with the pope, the bearer of the ʺfullness of spiritual powerʺ (plenitudo potestatis), at its head, served as the ʺwell of graceʺ for all Christians of the late Middle Ages, pure and simple. Not only did the path to lucrative ecclesiastical prebends of every calibre, from the office of a priest in charge of Mass at matins up to the cardinalate, lead through Rome; the papal court also produced ʺpotere spiritualeʺ (Arnold Esch) in the form of absolutions, dispensations, and indults. The complicated juristic prescriptions for how a ʺrightful marriageʺ (Paul Mikat) came about, based on the...

  14. Appendix: Fees and Composition Payments for Marriage Dispensations
    (pp. 353-354)
  15. Select Bibliography
    (pp. 355-368)
  16. Index of Manuscripts
    (pp. 369-370)
  17. Index of Legal Citations
    (pp. 371-378)
  18. General Index
    (pp. 379-389)