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IMC 2016: Sessions

Session 519: Managing Restraint: Voluntary and Involuntary Abstinence and Shortage

Tuesday 5 July 2016, 09.00-10.30

Moderator/Chair:Peter Firth, Centre for Lifelong Learning, University of Liverpool
Paper 519-aFasting for Others: Completing Penance by Proxy in the Early Middle Ages
(Language: English)
Gavin Fort, Department of History, Northwestern University
Index terms: Canon Law, Ecclesiastical History, Lay Piety, Religious Life
Paper 519-bBedfordshire 1272, 1297, 1309, 1332: The Great European Famine, Population Dynamics, and Church Enlargement
(Language: English)
David H. Kennett, Independent Scholar, Shipston-on-Stour
Index terms: Architecture - Religious, Demography, Ecclesiastical History, Local History
Paper 519-cIntercession: Praise and Hope
(Language: English)
Ann Marie Caron, Department of Religious Studies, University of Saint Joseph, Connecticut
Index terms: Liturgy, Religious Life, Theology
Paper 519-dAttitudes of the Polish Clergy towards Alcoholic Beverages in the Middle Ages
(Language: English)
Robert Bubczyk, Instytut Kulturoznawstwa, Uniwersytet Marii Curie-Skłodowskiej, Lublin
Index terms: Historiography - Medieval, Language and Literature - Slavic, Mentalities, Religious Life

Paper -a:
Historians have overlooked proxy penance - one person completing another's penance - even though the practice existed from the early church to the end of the Middle Ages. Indeed, Christian thought has always allowed the benefit of one person's work to be transferred to another - Christ himself being the pre-eminent example. Yet, in the history of proxy penance, proxy fasting flourished only in the early Middle Ages. Priests shared this burden with their penitents, and wealthy sinners employed an army of hungry substitutes. Intersecting with the phenomenon of gift-giving and powerful emotions like empathy, proxy fasting transforms our understanding of penitential culture.

Paper -b:
Bedfordshire is fortunate in having one complete county and two substantial part county taxation returns from the period leading up to the Great European Famine of 1315-1322 and one from a decade after its effects had ceased to be current; each of these returns is published which allows the researcher to assess the stability of individual families both before and after the years of severe hardship.

The returns cover the twenty-fifth of 1272, the ninth of 1297, the twenty-fifth of 1309, and the fifteenth and tenth of 1332. The first has survived for the northern hundred of Willey and four parishes in the adjacent Stodden Hundred; the 1297 returns cover the three hundreds of Barford, Biggleswade, and Flitt, together comprising most of the eastern part of the county and the towns of Bedford, Dunstable, Leighton Buzzard, and Luton; the two later returns are for the whole county. The 1272 and 1297 returns were published by the Bedfordshire Historical Record Society in 1992 and 1969 respectively; the 1309 and 1332 returns were edited by S.H.A. Harvey in the Suffolk Green Book series as long ago as 1909.

The paper considers the possibilities of examining family longevity within individual villages and how members of different families may have moved about within the county over two generations in the final third of the 13th century and the first third of the 14th century.

The records also give numbers of tax payers and the sums collected in each parish: in most places both are less in 1332 than they were in 1309 and either 1297 or 1272. Comparison of numbers paying and sums collected in 1332 can be compared to the summary record of taxes collected in 1334.

One supplementary investigation concerns the experience of population dynamics in this period with those of a later, but still pre-industrial time. Given the depth of 18th-century records for some north Bedfordshire parishes, notably Great Barford, it is also possible to compare these seventy years between 1272 and 1332 with the 18th-century's experience of almost a complete replacement of tenants every twenty or so years.

A second sidelight is shed some light on the resources available to individual parishes to enlarge or upgrade their parish church and how the dearth in the famine years affected church building in the county.

Paper -c:
Between the years 1315 and 1322 the great famine that struck northern Europe was 'a most severe subsistence crisis'. It was followed in only a few decades by the Black Death in 1347 and 1353 and many times thereafter. Was famine and disease a punishment for sin? Rather in this paper I will examine text and images from examples of Books of Hours and from Florentine laudesi festivals.

Paper -d:
This paper aims to investigate a number of attitudes towards alcoholic beverages, i.e. beer and wine, which were adopted by representatives of medieval clergy in Poland. The author examines diverse written sources where this subject is present. He begins his review with a selection of alcoholic thematic strands in medieval chronicles, starting with Gallus Anonymous and moving on to to Master Vincent, Janko of Czarnkow and Jan Długosz – all of them were not only highly educated members of the Church but also intellectuals well acquainted with secular courtly life and tradition. This review of their stances on the issue is then compared with the attitudes of medieval Polish preachers, e.g. Peregryn of Opole, Stanislas of Skarbimierz and Michał of Kleparz. Of their extant sermons those passages are discussed which focus on the consumption of alcohol. This observation is then complemented by the analysis of some documentary sources - namely the synod statues that have been preserved from some dioceses in the territory of medieval Poland. Some of them contain legal regulations referring to the consumption of alcoholic beverages by the clergy, which makes the overall picture suggested by the title of the paper even more comprehensive and nuanced.