This session focuses on the role of heresy and orthodoxy in constructions of marginal masculinities.
When Christianity became dominant in Western Europe it could not consistently reject the necessity to fight wars anymore, nor prevent that members of its community would become involved in armed conflicts. Nevertheless, the integration of the fighting part of society into the Christian community could only be accomplished in a long-term process where Christianity and politics gradually converged, changing ideas on armed conflicts and contemporaries’ look on people that fought them. What importance the fighting part of Merovingian society attributed to (Christian) religion, and to what extent they were able to live a life that was conform to Christian rules, should be the focus of the present paper.
We live in an age of political correctness. In this paper I will examine how heresy was the medieval response to perceived political incorrectness. Heresy is conventionally associated with a religious incorrectness in need of an immediate correction. However, I will argue that heresy could be applied to social behaviour that did not meet social expectations. The examples – John Wycliffe and Richard II. Wycliffe was accused of heresy and Richard II went against the expectations for kingly behaviour and his behaviour could be considered heretical by the standards of his time – a man who collected books and did not follow the manly arts of war.
The clergy of the Middle Ages could find themselves performing as warriors in military conflict with other Christians for a number of reasons ranging from duties attached to land tenure, social position, or the possession of strategically important sites to the pursuit of personal ambition. Many contemporaries, in particular canonists and monastic chroniclers reacted to this with horror, but some did not. This paper considers several examples of clerics waging war, particularly in 11th-century England to ask how far their behaviour was considered legitimate by contemporaries, and how it was reinterpreted (and in some cases obscured) by succeeding generations of chroniclers whose own ideas about what was licit for the clerical estate may have been quite different.