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The Final Criminalisation Of Sexual Acts In The High Middle Ages

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Chapter Summary

Criminal deeds had been associated with sin since the Early Middle Ages. An important step forward on the road to criminalising the whole spectrum of extramarital sexuality was probably made with the establishment of the archbishopric in the mid-twelfth century and with the growing influence of canon law that it entailed. Honour was a central concept regarding the control of (womens) sexuality and murder. The Norwegian Crown and Church gained formal pre-eminence as supervising instances over all types of sexual relations. In combination with their control over murder cases this development was a milestone in the establishment of public authority in the Middle Ages. Concerning the civil law aspects of illegal sexuality, the family continued to play an important role.

Keywords: canon law; criminalisation; extramarital sexuality



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