While exploring and taking further an already rich tradition, the later Middle Ages develop new concepts concerning the ‘public’ and ‘private’ aspects of legal and political organization. Especially the treatment of custom in canon law is exemplary in this respect. The early modern age of the Second Scholasticism in which these concepts of the ‘private’ and the ‘public’ will increasingly shift to the centre of the attention, is unthinkable without the revolutionary work of thinkers such as above all Panormitanus. In this paper an attempt will be made to present those aspects of Panormitanus’ doctrine on custom that mark the continuity of an distinctively medieval context in the development of concepts of the ‘private’ and the ‘public’.
The passage from the public penance to the private penance was not only the loss of the public character of the punishment, but also that the Church lost the control of behavior, because the repression would depend now only on the personal need for forgiveness of each of the faithful. This fact prompted moral laxity in the population. The sinner is now free, and he has fun with this freedom, which allows him to do everything, because already should not purged their sins in public. In this situation, the Church needs to cause the voluntary contrition of the sinner, and it promotes new rules aimed towards this objective. The IV Lateran Council faces the problem from four aspects:
1. the annual obligation to the confession and that this is done with the ‘proprio sacerdote‘, to ensure that the Confessor knows the circumstances of the sinner
2. the canonical regulation of marriage, in order to exclude attitudes contrary to morality and in order that the sacrament becomes public
3. the creation of chairs of theology, to train priests and these to train the faithful through preaching
4. the establishment of the inquisitorial courts, which punish those who do not accept contrition and the amendment of their lives.
Our work is focused on this need of causing voluntary contrition, and in the means employed to achieve this. I study the similar evolution of the sacrament of penance and the inquisitorial process, which, together with preaching, involves the exercise of the triple ecclesiasticall Ministry (munus regendi and munus docendi, munus santificandi) in the war of the pleasure of privacy.