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Learning from the Confessional in the Later Thirteenth Century: Contributions to Human Sexuality, Daily Life, and a Science of Nature

  • Irven M. Resnick

Abstract

Implementation of the canons of the Fourth Lateran Council dramatically expanded the practice of auricular confession among laypeople. Although the Council's canons also insist upon the seal of confession in order to keep the content of confessions secret, thirteenth-century authorities differ over the boundaries of the seal. As a result, the “secrets” of confession are often revealed in at least general terms in order to provide preachers with entertaining exempla for moral or doctrinal instruction. What is revealed from confession not only provides a window onto medieval private lives, but it also provided confessors with information about human activities—especially sexual practices—that might otherwise be unavailable to them. With such information, learned confessors not only encouraged moral reform but also defended claims of Aristotelian biology on human nature and sexuality.

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References

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1 For evidence of lay confession before 1215, see, for example, Murray, Alexander, “Confession before 1215,” Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, Sixth Series, 3 (1993): 5181; repr. in Murray, , Conscience and Authority in the Medieval Church (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015), 1748; and Bachrach, David, “Lay Confession to Priests in light of Wartime Practice (1097–1180),” Revue d'histoire ecclésiastique 102, vol. 1 (2007): 7699.

2 For medieval Jewish polemical attacks on the Christian practice of confession, see The Jewish-Christian Debate in the High Middle Ages: A Critical Edition of the Nizzahon vetus, ed. David Berger (Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society of America), 233, (par. 236); Chazan, Robert, Fashioning Jewish Identity in Medieval Western Christendom (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 308310; and, Hames, Harvey J.. “Urinating on the Cross. Christianity as seen in the Sefer Yoseph Ha-Mekaneh (ca. 1260) and in Light of Paris 1240,” in Ritus Infidelium. Miradas interconfesionales sobre las prácticas religiosas en la Edad Media, eds. Gásquez, José Martínez and Tolan, John Victor, Collection de la Casa de Velázquez 138 (Madrid: Casa de Velázquez, 2013), 209220, esp. 211–212. In the thirteenth century, Jacques de Vitry reports that in the city of Acre. he encountered Jacobite Christians who would confess their sins to God alone and not to a priest. See Lettres de Jacques de Vitry, ed. R.B.C. Huygens (Leiden: Brill, 1960), 83. The fourteenth-century Book of John Mandeville records that in the Holy Land, Christians, Jacobite and others “say that confession must be made to God alone and not to man.The Book of John Mandeville with Related Texts, ed. and trans. Higgins, Ian Macleod (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc., 2011), 73.

Medieval heretics also departed from the practice of auricular confession of the laity. The Cathars, for example, allowed for a public confession of the sins of the community but no individual confession of particular sins. See Biller, Peter, “Confession in the Middle Ages: Introduction,” in Handling Sin in the Middle Ages, ed. Minnis, A.J. and Biller, Peter, (Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer, 1998), 133, esp. 18–23. Waldensians, contrariwise, were criticized for hearing individual confessions even though they lacked ordination. See Audisio, Gabriel, The Waldensian Dissent: Persecution and Survival c. 1170–c. 1570, trans. Davison, Claire (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 17–18, 50–52, 9495.

3 For an argument that the canons on confession entered the Iberian peninsula more slowly, see Mackay, Angus and McKendrick, Geraldine, “Confession in the Cántigas de Santa María,” Reading Medieval Studies 5 (1979): 7188.

4 Alberigo, J. et al. , eds. Conciliorum Oecumenicorum Decreta (Rome: Herder, 1973), 239240.

5 The Letters of Robert Grosseteste, Bishop of Lincoln, 52, 29, trans. with introduction and annotation by F.A.C. Mantello and Joseph Goering (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2010), 188.

6 For example, a letter of Bishop Robert Grosseteste written ca. 1243–1244 reprimands secular clergy of the diocese of Lincoln “who are not only loath to listen to the sermons of friars of both orders, but also maliciously prevent, as they are able to do, the people from hearing them preach or confessing to them.” The Letters of Robert Grosseteste, Bishop of Lincoln, 335.

7 Ibid., 160; 161. These letters date from 1236–1237.

8 Quinel, Peter, Bishop of Exeter, Summula sinodi Exoniensis Diocesis, in Councils and Synods, with Other Documents Relating to the English Church, ed. Powicke, F.M. and Cheney, R.C. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1964), 2:10611062. For his sources, see especially Goering, Joseph and Taylor, Daniel S., “The Summulae of Bishops Walter de Cantilupe (1240) and Peter Quinel (1287),” Speculum 67, vol. 3 (1992): 576594. As Payer later notes, a tract written in 1240 by Bishop Walter of Cantilupe was “re-issued” in 1287 as the Summula attributed to Peter Quinel. See Payer, Pierre J., Sex and the New Medieval Literature of Confession, 1150–1300 (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 2009), 30.

9 For these works, see especially Boyle, Leonard, “Summae confessorum,” in Les genres littéraires dans les sources théologiques et philosophiques médiévales, Définition, critique et exploitation (Louvain-la-Neuve: Université catholique de Louvain, 1982): 227237; and Michaud-Quantin, Pierre, Sommes de casuistique et manuels de confession au Moyen Âge (XII–XVI siècles), Analecta Mediaevalia Namurcensia 13 (Louvain: Éditions Nauwelaerts, 1962).

10 For pastoral counsel and confession, see Murray, Alexander, “Counselling in Medieval Confession,” in Handling Sin in the Middle Ages, ed. Minnis, A.J. and Biller, Peter (Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer, 1998), 6377; repr. in Murray, Conscience and Authority in the Medieval Church, 87–104; for an interrogatory organized according to the Ten Commandments, see Peter Quinel, Summula sinodi Exoniensis Diocesis, 1062–1064. Cf. the text of Hugh of St. Cher, in Michaud-Quantin, Pierre, “Deux formulaires pour la confession du milieu du XIIIè siècle,” Recherches de Théologie Ancienne et Médiévale 31 (1964): 5257; and Ps. Thomas Aquinas, “Ad habendum salutiferae confessionis ordinem,” Ibid., 60–62; also, cf. Diekstra, F.N.M., “Robert de Sorbon's Cum repetes (de modo audiendi confessions et interrogandi),Recherches de théologie et philosophie médiévales 66, vol. 1 (1999): 79153.

11 Cf. Haren, Michael, “Confession, Social Ethics and Social Discipline in the Memoriale presbiterorum,” in Handling Sin in the Middle Ages, ed. Minnis, A.J. and Biller, Peter, (Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer, 1998), 109–22; and Haren, , “The Interrogatories for Officials, Lawyers and Secular Estates of the Memoriale presbiterorum,” in Handling Sin in the Middle Ages, ed. Minnis, A.J. and Biller, Peter (Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer, 1998), 122163.

12 This rubric can be found already in Robert Pullen's twelfth-century Sententiarum 6, chap. 52 (PL 186: 901D). Also cf. Rider, Catherine, “Sciendum est autem sacerdotibus (Penitens accedens ad confessionem): A short Thirteenth-Century Treatise on Hearing Confessions,” Mediaeval Studies 73 (2011): 147182 (173); Peter Quinel, Bishop of Exeter, Summula sinodi Exoniensis Diocesis 20, 1069.

13 For confession as a “classroom” for instruction see Wood, Marjorie Curry and Copeland, Rita, “Classroom and Confession,” in The Cambridge History of Medieval English Literature, ed. Wallace, David (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 376406.

14 For information on times when sexual relations between married partners was forbidden under the church calendar, see esp. Burchard of Worms, Corrector sive Medicus 155, in Patrologiae Cursus Completus. Series Latina, ed. J.-P. Migne (Paris: Apud Garniere Fratres, 1844–1855; 1862–1864), 140: 1013B–C (hereafter abbreviated as PL); for sex not directed toward procreation, see Michaud-Quantin, Pierre, “Deux formulaires pour la confession du milieu du XIIIè siècle,” Recherches de Théologie Ancienne et Médiévale 31 (1964): 5556. For an overview of the vice or sin against nature, see also Pierre J. Payer, Sex and the New Medieval Literature of Confession, 126–149.

15 Humbert of Romans, Instructiones de officiis Ordinis, chap. 46.2, in Opera, ed. J.J. Berthier (Rome: Marietti, 1956), 2:363. On the unequal role accorded to women in confession, see Elliott, Dyan, “Women and Confession: From Empowerment to Pathology,” in Gendering the Master Narrative: Women and Power in the Middle Ages (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2003), 3151.

16 See Murray, Jacqueline, “Gendered Souls in Sexed Bodies: The Male Construction of Female Sexuality in Some Medieval Confessors’ Manuals,” in Handling Sin: Confession in the Middle Ages, eds. Biller, Peter and Minnis, A.J. (Woodbridge: York Medieval Press, 1998): 7993; see also Rider, Catherine, “Sciendum est autem sacerdotibus (Penitens accedens ad confessionem): A short Thirteenth-Century Treatise on Hearing Confessions,” Mediaeval Studies 73 (2011): 147182 (173); for this text see Rider, Catherine, “Lay Religion and Pastoral Care in Thirteenth-Century England: the Evidence of a Group of Short Confession Manuals,” Journal of Medieval History 36, vol 4 (2010): 327340. In this paper, Rider studied a group of shorter thirteenth-century English manuals to determine both what one can learn about the level of religious knowledge and practice among the laity, and the aim of confessors to instruct the laity with respect to correct religious practice and understanding.

17 Summa sinodi Exoniensis Diocesis 19, 1068–1069; Ibid. 26, 1070–1071.

18 Payer, Pierre J., “Sex and Confession in the Thirteenth Century,” in Sex and the Middle Ages: A Book of Essays, ed. Salisbury, Joyce E. (New York: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1991), 126144, 129.

19 Pierre J. Payer, Sex and the New Medieval Literature of Confession, 4.

20 Caesarius of Heisterbach, Dialogus miraculorum dist. 3, chap. 24, ed. Strange, Joseph (Cologne: J.M. Heberle, 1851), 1:141.

21 Thomas of Cantimpré, Bonum universale de apibus, ed. Colvenerius, George (Douai: Baltazar Bellerus, 1627), 1:1617.

22 Speculum naturale, lib. 31, 21, 2308.

23 de Adam da Parma, Salimbene, Chronica (fol. MS 382B), ed. Scalia, G., Corpus Christianorum Continuatio Mediaevalis (Turnhout: Brepols, 1998–1999), 125:594 (hereafter, CC CM).

24 Summa de poenitentia, lib. 3, tit. 34, 44, ed. Xaverio Ochoa and Aloisio Diez, Universa Bibliotheca Iuris (Rome: Commentarium pro religiosis, 1975), 1/B: 844–845.

25 For Jean Gerson's concern over this matter, see the Elliott, Dyan's discussion in Fallen Bodies: Pollution, Sexuality, & Demonology in the Middle Ages (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1999), 2325.

26 Henry Charles Lea argues that it is in the 11th C. that we see the first clear prescription of a penalty for revealing a confession: Burchard of Worm's Corrector (chapter 244) prescribes that a priest who reveals a confession should be deposed and sent on pilgrimage. In the next century, Gratian adds that the priest who reveals the confession should be deposed. See Lea, 's History of Auricular Confession and Indulgences in the Latin Church (Philadelphia: Lea Brothers & Co., 1896), 1:418419.

27 Canon 21, De confessione facienda et non revelanda a sacerdote et saltem in pascha communicando, in Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils, ed. Norman P. Tanner, vol. 1: Nicaea I to Lateran V (London: Sheed & Ward; Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 1990), 245.

28 Kurtscheid, Bertrand, A History of the Seal of Confession, trans. Marks, F.A., ed. Preuss, Arthur (London: B. Herder Book Co., 1927), 115.

29 Dyan Elliott, Fallen Bodies, 76.

30 Chobham, Thomas of, Summa Confessorum art. 6, dist. 1, q. 5a, ed. Broomfield, F., Analecta mediaevalia Namurcensia 25 (Louvain: Éditions Nauwelaerts, 1968), 257.

31 Rider, Catherine, “Sciendum est autem sacerdotibus (Penitens accedens ad confessionem): A short Thirteenth-Century Treatise on Hearing Confessions,” Mediaeval Studies 73 (2011): 165. All translations are my own unless otherwise indicated.

32 Humbert of Romans, Instructiones de officiis Ordinis, chap. 45.11, in Opera, ed. Berthier, J.J. (Rome: Marietti, 1956), 2:368.

33 For discussion of canon 21 as a mechanism by which the church could establish social power or control over the behavior of the lay population, see especially Tentler, Thomas B.. “The ‘Summa’ for Confessors as an Instrument of Social Control,” in The Pursuit of Holiness in Late Medieval and Renaissance Religion, ed. Trinkaus, Charles and Oberman, Heiko A. (Leiden: 1974): 103126. For criticism of this thesis, see Boyle, Leonard, “The ‘Summa’ for Confessors as a Genre, and Its Religious Intent,” in The Pursuit of Holiness in Late Medieval and Renaissance Religion, ed. Trinkaus, Charles and Oberman, Heiko A. (Leiden: Brill, 1974): 126137. For evidence that women confessed more frequently, see Biller, Peter, “Confession in the Middle Ages: Introduction,” in Handling Sin in the Middle Ages, ed. Minnis, A.J. and Biller, Peter, (Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer, 1998), 134, 13–14.

34 Humbert of Romans, Instructiones de officiis Ordinis, chap. 45.11, 368.

35 De corpore domini dist.6, tract.4, chap. 3, in B. Alberti Magni Ratisbonensis episcopi, ordinis Prædicatorum, Opera omnia, ed. A. Borgnet (Paris: Vivès, 1899), 432b. Hereafter, those of Albert's works edited by Borgnet refer to this edition. For translation, see Albert the Great On the Body of the Lord, trans. Sr. Albert Marie Surmanski, The Fathers of the Church, Mediaeval Continuation 17 (Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 2017), 439.

36 Raymund of Peñafort, Summa de poenitentia 3, tit. 34, par. 4, ed. Ochoa, Xaverio and Diez, Aloisio, Universa Bibliotheca Iuris (Rome: Commentarium pro religiosis, 1975), 1/B:803.

37 See Mantello, F.A.C., “Notus in Judea Deus: Robert Grosseteste's Confessional Formula in Lambeth Palace MS 499.Viator 18 (1987): 253273; for Grosseteste's instructions to penitents to confess in their native tongue, see 257 and 272; Humbert of Romans, Instructiones de officiis Ordinis, chap. 45.9, in Opera, ed. J.J. Berthier (Rome: Marietti, 1956), 2:367.

38 Lettres de Jacques de Vitry, ed. R.B.C. Huygens (Leiden: Brill, 1960), 93.

39 Summa Theologiae, III, suppl., q. 11, art. 3, resp.. Also see Summa Theologiae, III, suppl., q. 11, art. 4, ad 4; cf. In IV Sententiarum. dist. 21, q. 3, art. 1, quaest. 3, arg. 1 (Turnout: Brepols, 2010). The application of the “seal” expanded during the later Middle Ages. The Dominican St. Antoninus of Florence (d. 1459) adds that not only is the translator bound to preserve the seal, but also anyone who should hear the content of a confession inadvertently or while hidden (in the church). See his Summa Theologica, tit. 17, chap. 22 (Verona: 1740; repr., Graz: Akademische Druck-U. Verlangsanstalt, 1959), 3:990, §2.

40 Aquinas, Thomas, Quaestiones quodlibetales 12, q. 11.2 (Rome: Marietti, 1949), 230.

41 St. Bonaventure, Commentaria in quattuor libros Sententiarum Magistri Petri Lombardi, IV, dist. 21, pars: 2, art. 2, q. 3, in Opera Omnia, ed. PP. Collegii a S. Bonaventura, (Quarrachi:1889), 4:569.

42 The Exempla or Illustrative Stories from the Sermones Vulgares of Jacques de Vitry, 80, fol. 71ro, ed. Thomas Frederick Crane (London: The Folk-Lore Society, 1890), 36. As Dyan Elliott points out, Jacques de Vitry and Thomas of Cantimpré were early sponsors of the Beguines and promoted among them confessional “virtuosity.” See Dyan Elliott, “Women and Confession: From Empowerment to Pathology,” 34. The women mentioned here were likely Beguines, who were sometimes attacked for allowing men not bound by religious vows to enter their houses. In the early fourteenth century, Johannes Andreae explicitly compared beguinages to houses of prostitution: quasi prostibulis, sicut sunt hospitia beguinarum. See his Glos. Ord., 216, quoted in Makowski, Elizabeth, “A Pernicious Sort of Woman”: Quasi-religious Women and Canon Lawyers in the Later Middle Ages (Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 2005), 29.

43 Summa Theologiae, III, suppl., q. 11, art. 3, sed contra.

44 Summa Theologiae, III, suppl., q. 11, art. 4, resp.

45 As Joseph Goering notes, in most cases the proprius sacerdos will be the parish priest. But in some instances it may be another. For example, in a monastery, the prior might hear confession and thus be the proprius sacerdos. Similarly, noble families might receive permission to employ a personal chaplain and confessor for their households, who would then serve as the proprius sacerdos for the household. Furthermore, at the diocesan level, the bishop was the proprius sacerdos for his clergy and for everyone in his diocese; he might exercise his role as confessor personally or appoint a coadjutor. See Goering, Joseph, “The Internal Forum and the Literature of Penance and Confession,” Traditio 59 (2004): 175227, 183–184. This paper has been revised in Goering, “The Internal Forum and the Literature of Penance and Confession,” in The history of medieval canon law in the classical period, 1140–1234: from Gratian to the decretals of Pope Gregory IX, ed. Wilfried Hartmann and Kenneth Pennington (Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 2008), 379–428. For the proprius sacerdos and others appointed to hear confession, see pp. 381–390.

46 Liber poenitentialis (PL 210: 304B).

47 Aurea summa lib. 5, De poenitentiis, par. 52, (Cologne: 1512), 1617. (accessed at https://books.google.com/books?id=AQtCAAAAcAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad= 0#v=onepage&q=de%20poenitentia&f=false, 5/22/17)

48 For the “gossiping” priest, see too Phillips, Susan E., Transforming Talk: The Problem with Gossip in Late Medieval England (University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2007), 4854.

49 De consciencio, redaction A, p. 90, cited in Diekstra, F.N.M., “Confessor and Penitent: Robert de Sorbon and the Cura animarum,Mediaeval Studies 71 (2009): 162163, n. 14.

50 Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils, ed. Norman P. Tanner, vol. 1: Nicaea I to Lateran V, 245.

51 Bonaventure, Commentaria in quattuor libros Sententiarum Magistri Petri Lombardi, IV, dist. 17, pars 2, dubia circa litteram Magistri, dubium 3, 4:448.

52 Albert the Great, Super Sententiarum 4, dist.17, art. 42, sed contra, 1, ed. Borgnet, A., vol. 30 (Paris: 1893–1894), 729b.

53 Ibid.

54 De muliere forti chap.15, §1, ed. A. Borgnet (Paris: Vivès, 1893), 112. The attribution of this work to Albert remains uncertain.

55 Albert the Great, Super Sententiarum 4, dist. 17, art. 42, sed contra, 2. The Franciscan Salimbene likewise allows that one may seek out another confessor if one's own priest is ignorant, malicious, or wont to reveal the secrets of the confession. See Salimbene de Adam, Chronica (fol. MS 381B), CC CM 125, 591.

56 De corpore domini dist. 6, tract. 4, chap. 2, ed. A. Borgnet (Paris: Vivès, 1899), 425b; On the Body of the Lord, 427. In his solution to the question, however, Albert casts doubt on this position. Cf. Albert the Great, De sacramentis, pars 2, q. 2 (De confessione), art. 14, ed. Ohlmeyer, Albert, ed. Colon. 26 (Monasterii West.: Aschendorff, 1958), 105106. Cf. Teetaert, Amédée, M., O., “La confession aux laïques chez Albert le Grand,” Ephemerides Theologicae Lovanienses 2 (1925): 530542, esp. 535–536.

57 IV Sent. dist. 17, ch. 4. For further distinction according to mortal or venial sin, see also Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologiae Suppl. III, q. 8, art. 2–3.

58 F.N.M. Diekstra, “Confessor and Penitent: Robert de Sorbon and the Cura animarum,” 159–160.

59 Smith, Lesley, “William of Auvergne and Confession,” in Handling Sin in the Middle Ages, ed. Minnis, A.J. and Biller, Peter (Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer, 1998), 95107, 103.

60 Cf. Barr, Beth Allison, “Three's a Crowd: Wives, Husbands and Priests in the Late Medieval Confessional,” in A Companion to Pastoral Care in the Late Middle Ages (1200–1500), ed. Stansbury, Ronald J. (Leiden: Brill, 2010), 213234, 216.

61 Ibid., 220.

62 Humbert of Romans, Instructiones de officiis Ordinis, chap. 45.12, in Opera, ed. Berthier, J.J. (Rome: Marietti, 1956), 2:368.

63 Dialogus miraculorum dist. 3, chap. 31, 1:148. This view is also expressed by the Franciscan, Petrus Iohannis Olivi (d. 1298), who opines that it does not violate the seal if a confessor says in general “I heard in confession such a crime” or “I heard this in confession,” so long as the penitent's identity is not revealed. See his Quodlibeta quinque, quod. 4, q. 9, in Collectio Oliviana 7, ed. St. Defraia (Grottaferrata: Collegium S. Bonaventurae, 2002), 234.

64 Dialogus miraculorum dist. 3, chap. 43, 1: 162–163.

65 Lettres de Jacques de Vitry, 86.

66 “Confession as a historical source in the thirteenth century,” in The Writing of History in the Middle Ages: Essays presented to Robert William Southern, ed. R.H.C. Davis and J.M. Wallace-Hadrill (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1981): 275–322 (292–294); repr. in Alexander Murray, Conscience and Authority in the Medieval Church, 49–86.

67 Bonum universale de apibus 2.30.3–2.34.

68 Ibid., 2.30.6.

69 Ibid., 2.30.7. I have been unable to find this claim explicitly in De animalibus. For Thomas's knowledge and use of this text based on Michael Scot's translation from the Arabic, see Hünemörder, Christian, “Der Text des Michael Scotus um die Mitte des 13. Jahrhunderts und Thomas Cantimpratensis III,” in Aristotle's Animals in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, eds. Steel, Carlos, Guldentops, Guy, and Beullens, Pieter (Leuven: Leuven University Press, 1999): 238248.

70 Ibid., 2.30.8.

71 “Confession as a historical source in the thirteenth century,” 287.

72 Stephen of Bourbon/Etienne de Bourbon, Tractatus de diversis materiis praedicabilibus tit. 7, 370, in Anecdotes Historiques, Légendes et Apologues tirés du recueil inédit d’Étienne de Bourbon, ed. A. Lecoy de la Marche (Paris: Librairie Renouard, 1877), 325–328. For the story of St. Guinefort, see Schmitt, Jean-Claude, The Holy Greyhound: Guinefort, Healer of Children since the Thirteenth Century, trans. Thom, Martin (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1983).

73 Rudolf of Schlettstadt, Historiae Memorabiles zur Dominkanerliteratur und Kulturgeschichte des 13. Jahrhunderts, 14, ed. Kleinschmidt, Erich (Cologne: Böhlau Verlag, 1974), 6162.

74 Biller, Peter, “Confessors’ Manuals and the Avoiding of Offspring,” in Handling Sin: Confession in the Middle Ages, eds. Biller, Peter and Minnis, A.J. (Woodbridge: York Medieval Press, 1998): 165187; Biller, , The Measure of Multitude. Population in Medieval Thought (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000), 185212.

75 Thomas of Chobham, Summa confessorum VII.iv.9a.15, 463–465, cited by Peter Biller, The Measure of Multitude, 189. Berenger Frédol the Older (d. 1323) likewise mentions women who move about in a certain way to avoid conception in his confessional booklet, In primis debet sacerdos; see Biller, The Measure of Multitude, 200.

76 See De animalibus 10.2.1.46, in Albertus Magnus De Animalibus Libri XXVI, ed. Hermann Stadler, Beiträge zur Geschichte der Philosophie des Mittelalters 15 and 16 (Münster: Aschendorfsche Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1916–1920) 15:748. For this translation, see Albertus Magnus On Animals. A Medieval Summa Zoologica, trans. Kenneth F. Kitchell Jr. and Irven M. Resnick (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999), 1:845, now available in a revised ed., Albertus Magnus On Animals. A Medieval Summa Zoologica, trans. Kenneth F. Kitchell Jr. and Irven Michael Resnick (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 2018). Hereafter the translation will be abbreviated as SZ. Note that Albert is not entirely credulous; after examining certain practices used to determine whether it is the male or the female who is sterile or infertile, Albert concludes “all these things seem absurd to us.” (Ibid., SZ 1:845).

77 Ibid. 22.2.1.111, 118 (SZ 2: 1517, 1521). For medieval birth control, see also Riddle, John M., Eve's Herbs: A History of Contraception and Abortion in the West (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1997), 101110. The Trotula also provides numerous suggestions to prevent conception, including advice that a woman fashion a sort of amulet from the testicles of a weasel. See The Trotula. A Medieval Compendium of Women's Medicine, §86, ed. and trans. Monica H. Green (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2001), 96–99.

78 Avicenna, Liber canonis medicine lib. 3, tr. 2, fen 21, chap. 17 (Venice: 1527; repr. Brussels, 1971), 292vb.

79 Even before the Fourth Lateran, Alain de Lille (d. 1202) had identified his Pentiential Book (Liber poenitentialis), dedicated to Archbishop Henry Sully of Bourges and composed as a guide for priests and confessors, as “a book called the Corrector and the Physician, which most fully contains corrections for bodies and medicines for souls, and instructs each priest how . . . or when priests ought or can invite the people committed to them to penance and provide aid, just like a faithful physician.” de Lille, Alain, Liber poenitentialis, prol., ed. Longere, Jean, Analecta mediaevalia Namurcensia 18 (Louvain: Editions Nauwelaerts, 1965), 2:15. For Canon 22, Quod infirmi prius provideant animae quam corpori, see Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils, ed. Norman P. Tanner, vol. 1: Nicaea I to Lateran V, 244–246.

80 Pierre J. Payer, Sex and the New Medieval Literature of Confession, 23.

81 de Lille, Alain, Liber poenitentialis 1.17, 2:31; Robert Grosseteste, Templum Dei 19.9, ed. Goering, Joseph and Mantello, F. A. C. (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 1984), 64

82 Albert the Great, Super Sententiarum 4, dist. 16, art. 25, resp., p. 596a.

83 See The Cyrurgie of Guy de Chauliac 6.1.2, ed. Margaret S. Ogden, Early English Text Society, 265,1 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1971), 381. This fifteenth-century Middle English translation is adapted from Guy de Chauliac's Inventarium seu collectorium in parte cyrurgicali medicine; cf. Rawcliffe, Carole, Leprosy in Medieval England (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 2006), 182.

84 De animalibus 5.1.2.18 (SZ 1:496)

85 Ibid., 23.8.57 (SZ 2:1581)

86 Ibid., 24.1.8 (SZ 2:1660)

87 In De animalibus, the term cotyledon is used primarily to indicate lobules on the placenta that receive nourishment from the veins. It is also commonly used to indicate the point of juncture where a stem meets a piece of fruit. Some similar point of intersection must be envisioned here.

88 Urinating immediately after intercourse was also a potential contraceptive, Albert notes elsewhere, since the lubricating quality of the urine can cause the male semen to “slip” from the womb. See De animalibus 10.2.1.46 (SZ 1:845).

89Unde et subtiles proci, ut in confessionibus Coloniae audivi, cum tali cautela [et] tactu temptant mulieres.” Italics are mine. Quaestiones super de animalibus 13, q. 18, ed. Ephrem Filthaut, in Opera Omnia, 12 (Münster: Aschendorff, 1955), 248. For this translation, see Albert the Great's Questions Concerning Aristotle's ‘On Animals’, trans. Irven M. Resnick and Kenneth F. Kitchell Jr., Fathers of the Church, Medieval Continuation 9 (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 2008), 411 (hereafter abbreviated QDA).

Albert spent much of his life in Cologne. Perhaps he heard this in confession during his second period in Cologne, during which he taught and helped to define the course of study for Dominicans, after he had served from 1254–1257 as prior provincial of the Dominican Order. In January 1260, however, he was appointed Bishop of Regensburg.

90 For the testimony of midwives, cf. De animalibus 9.1.4.45, 9.1.7.68, 9.2.5.128; 18.2.6.82 (SZ 1: 790; 799; 823; SZ 2: 1321). For an illustration of misogyny in the Quaestiones, see Quaestiones super de animalibus 15, q. 11 (QDA, 454).

91 Women's Secrets: A Translation of Pseudo-Albertus Magnus's De secretis mulierum with Commentaries, chap. 11, trans. Helen Rodnite Lemay (Albany: SUNY Press, 1992), 135. Cf. El de secretis mulierum atribuido a Alberto Magno. Estudio, Edición Crítica y Traducción, chap. 9, ed. and trans. José Pablo Barragán Nieto (Porto: Fédération Internationale des Instituts d’Études Médiévales, 2012), 462–464: “Audivi enim semel in confessione societatis ab uno inquirente a me causam quare esset quod, quando ipse dormiret cum sua dilecta, et iuvencula et ipse iuvenis fuit, quod tunc ipse facto coitu inveniret ventrem suum usque ad umbilicum sanguine perfusum.”

92 For the ancient and medieval debate, see Preus, Anthony, “Galen's Criticism of Aristotle's Conception Theory,” Journal of the History of Biology 10 (1977): 6585; Musallam, Basim, “The Human Embryo in Arabic Scientific and Religious Thought,” in The Human Embryo. Aristotle and the Arabic and European Traditions, ed. Dunstan, G.R. (Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 1990): 3245; and, Connell, Sophia M., Aristotle on Female Animals. A Study of the Generation of Animals (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2016), 93120.

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