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From Penance To Church Discipline

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Chapter Summary

This chapter examines how the moral predicament of sin was addressed through medieval penance and post-Reformation Church discipline. Regarding the Middle Ages, a comparison of penitentials and Christian laws shows a high level of agreement in the degrees of sinful or criminal acts and the accompanying penance or punishment. The penance for incest depended on the degree of kinship, a principle which is mirrored in the gradation of fines in the younger Christian laws. The penance for simple adultery was smaller than the penance for double adultery, a rule taken up in the Young Christian Law of the Borgarthing which states that in the latter case both the penance and the fine payable to the bishop was to be doubled.

Keywords: adultery; criminal act; penance; post-Reformation Church discipline



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