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Blushing Before The Judge And Physician: Moral Arbitration In The Carolingian Empire

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Chapter Summary

Confessions seem to litter the Carolingian landscape. This chapter proposes that the imagery and arguments that accrued in the Carolingian discourse surrounding confession had considerable impact on both pastoral and legal concepts of moral authority in the medieval West. On one hand, it appears that in the Carolingian period, the individual conscience gained recognition as a sanctified agent of judgement. On the other hand, it seems that such a gain in moral autonomy was matched by new mechanisms for the investigation and prosecution of offenses that advanced the claims of the community over the individual. The confessional experience and the criminal court were invested with new potential for prosecution of intangible offenses, and also for new modes of pleading, as Carolingians selected their moments and modes of blushing before the judge.

Keywords: blushing; Carolingian Empire; confession; judge; moral arbitration



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