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New Laws, Old Principles

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Chapter Summary

This chapter aims to show that, laws issued against sexual crimes after the Reformation to a very large degree follow principles which had been defined already by medieval legislation. After the Reformation, legislation from Christian IIIs Odenseske Reces of 1539 to that of the Norwegian Law of 1687 makes it quite clear that adultery was a serious crime. In medieval Europe fornication was treated by the civil law, in that the womans family could claim compensation. Bergen probably became a hotspot for prostitution because of its extraordinary demographic and economic situation. There is agreement among medievalists and historians of the Early Modern Period that incest was a crime in the Middle Ages. Rape was a crime both during the Middle Ages and after the Reformation. Homosexuality and bestiality were criminalised in Norwegian law at the latest by the end of the twelfth century.

Keywords: adultery; fornication; homosexuality; Norwegian law; prostitution; sexual crime

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