Abortion in the Early Middle Ages, c.500-900 by Zubin Mistry

By Zubin Mistry

While a Spanish monk struggled to discover the perfect phrases to exhibit his unjust expulsion from a monastery in a determined petition to a sixth-century king, he likened himself to an aborted fetus. Centuries later, a ninth-century queen came upon herself accused of abortion in an altogether extra fleshly feel. Abortion haunts the written list around the early center a long time. but, the centuries after the autumn of Rome stay greatly the "dark a while" within the broader background of abortion.
This ebook, the 1st to regard the topic during this interval, tells the tale of the way contributors and groups, ecclesiastical and secular specialists, construed abortion as a social and ethical challenge throughout a few post-Roman societies, together with Visigothic Spain, Merovingian Gaul, early eire, Anglo-Saxon England and the Carolingian empire. It argues early medieval authors and readers actively deliberated on abortion and a cluster of similar questions, and that church culture on abortion used to be an evolving perform. It sheds mild at the overlooked number of responses to abortion generated via various social and highbrow practices, together with church self-discipline, dispute cost and methods of political legitimation, and brings the historical past of abortion into dialog with key questions on gender, sexuality, Christianization, penance and legislations. Ranging throughout abortion miracles in hagiography, polemical letters within which churchmen likened opponents to fetuses flung from the womb of the church and uncomfortable imaginings of resurrected fetuses in theological hypothesis, this quantity additionally illuminates the complicated cultural importance of abortion in early medieval societies.

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But the Sibylline Oracles and Sentences are reminders that these boundaries were both mobile and porous – and that the early medieval ­inheritance was partial. This chapter surveys attitudes to abortion in classical and late Roman as well as early and late antique Christian texts. 9 4 In addition to works mentioned at p. 4–5 in the introduction, on attitudes in classical and late antiquity, see K. Hopkins, ‘Contraception in the Roman Empire’, Comparative Studies in Society and History 8 (1965), 124–51; R.

The plural of anecdote is not data. What can the exceptional accusation against Theutberga really tell us about the handling of abortion? Certainly, that mud sometimes sticks to those who throw it, but also the huge gulf between regulations in theory and regulations in practice. Theutberga also teaches us, as if we were in need of reminding, that women and their experiences are elusive. The final chapter turns to another elusive historical subject: the aborted fetus. It focuses on a neglected theme in speculative thought and symbolic language: abortivi, aborted fetuses, stillborn infants, or miscarried children.

T. Mommsen with P. Krueger, trans. A. Watson, The Digest of Justinian, 4 vols. (Philadelphia, 1985), IV, p. 784 (all translations are my own, though I have consulted Watson’s translation). 32; Latin text quoted from Nardi, Aborto, pp. 216–17; cf. Kapparis, Abortion, pp. 193–4. 39 (= Tryphoninus, Disputationes 10), IV, p. 854. 8, IV, p. 820. 1–15, II, pp. 740–2: a man accused his ex-wife of being pregnant, which she denied. indd 26 19/06/2015 14:12 Classical and Late Antique Society The second legal approach focussed on the use and abuse of drugs, venenae, a term which could also mean poisons.

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