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Sexual Crimes As A Function Of Marriage: Lutherism Or Christianity?

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Chapter Summary

The aim of this chapter is to disprove the common assertion that the status of marriage was greatly enhanced after the Reformation. Amongst historians of the Early Modern Period this assumption has been a central premise, supporting the claim that women who had extramarital sexual relations were increasingly denigrated compared to the situation in the Middle Ages. It is important to stress that legislation focusing on publicity and establishing a consistent framework, was in no way specifically Lutheran, and that there is much continuity in regards to important principles of medieval marriage law. The decree on marriage of 1589, lists three main justifications for granting a divorce in court: adultery, desertion, and impotence. Both the catholic prohibition of and Luthers view on divorce are based on Matthew 19.9: I tell you, if a man divorces his wife for any cause other than unchastity, and marries another, he commits adultery.

Keywords: adultery; decree; impotence; Lutheran; medieval marriage law; sexual crime



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