Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Between Crime and Sin: Penitential Justice in Medieval Germany, 900-1200
by Burden, John Murphy, Ph.D., Yale University, 2018, 217; 10957228
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation investigates the intersection of penance and canon law in Germany between 900 and 1200. I focus in particular on the genres of penitentials and canon law collections, which both discuss crimes, sins, and penances, but are usually associated with separate procedures of voluntary private confession and coercive public penance. I demonstrate that early medieval canonists do not actually appear to have recognized a functional distinction between the two genres, reading and applying them in reference to the same procedure of public episcopal justice.

Focusing on points of overlap between the two genres, I examine numerous legal collections which integrate canonical and penitential sources, treating them interchangeably. In the process, I present a great deal of new research on the manuscripts and sources of early medieval canon law. Among the canon law collections treated in depth are Burchard of Worms's Decretum (c. 1023) and a number of minor collections from Freising, Augsburg, Regensburg, Passau, and elsewhere. Later chapters also consider depictions of penance in liturgical and narrative sources, finding little evidence for a regular institution of private penance distinct from the public canon law of church courts and synods.

I conclude by considering how twelfth-century developments in scholastic jurisprudence and theology reshaped the penitential scene. These developments rendered the penitentials suddenly obsolete and gave birth to new genres of legal and penitential literature including the ordines iudiciarii and summae confessorum. In these new genres, we see for the first time a growing procedural distinction between crimes and sins. This distinction, I argue, would have important implications for the history of Western jurisprudence and church-state relations.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Winroth, Anders
School: Yale University
School Location: United States -- Connecticut
Source: DAI-A 79/12(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Religious history, Law, Medieval history
Keywords: Canon Law, Church Law, Legal Procedure, Medieval Law, Medieval Penance, Penance
Publication Number: 10957228
ISBN: 978-0-438-26969-9
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