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IMC 2020: Sessions

Session 1022: Medieval Prostitution, Polygamy, and Divorce

Wednesday 8 July 2020, 09.00-10.30

Moderator/Chair:Cherry Hiu Ki Chan, St Andrews Institute of Mediaeval Studies University of St Andrews
Paper 1022-a'Get thee to a nunnery': Divorce and Clerical Opinion in Early Medieval England
(Language: English)
Maria Tranter, Departement Geschichte, Universit├Ąt Basel
Index terms: Canon Law, Daily Life, Sermons and Preaching, Women's Studies
Paper 1022-bFrom Mulieres suspectae to Meretrices: Defining Prostitution in Late Medieval Poland
(Language: English)
Karolina Morawska, Wydział Historyczny, Uniwersytet Warszawski
Index terms: Daily Life, Gender Studies, Sexuality, Social History

Paper -a:
As we know from a number of west Saxon kings, the removal of a wife from court to a monastic institution in order to be replaced by a second wife was not uncommon in royal circles in the late early medieval period. But how frequent was this type of divorce among the wider society, and what was the clerical reaction to such an interpretation of marriage law? This paper discusses how the dissolution of the marriage bond was referred to in Old English homilies from between the 9th and 12th century, and what clerical opinions tell us about early medieval English divorce practices.

Paper -b:
In spite of the growing popularity of the history of prostitution, the researchers are still encountering difficulties when it comes to the definition of this phenomenon in the Middle Ages. The boundaries between 'common women' and 'meretrices' are not always easy to define, especially for medieval Poland, where sex work was not uncommon. The most important aim of this paper is to clarify various meanings of prostitution for late medieval Polish society, with a particular reference to the perception of 'common women', 'public women', 'suspect women', and 'meretrices'.