Tuesday, 1 May 2007

Today's notes

Today it's Archbishop Wulfstan's Handbook (190). I note that next to the section de fornicatione clericorum et sanctimonalium, on the fornication of clerks and nuns, a medieval hand has written Sancta Maria ora pro nobis -- which is quite sad, I think.

Archbishop Parker has joyfully underlined the bit in Ælfric's letter about teaching people the gospel propria lingua, in their own language, but he won't have enjoyed so much the parts about how priests should not get married.

In a contemporary hand, e.g. very soon after the Norman Conquest, a scribe has copied the penitential decrees concerning those who fought at the Battle of Hastings. No matter which side you were on you did one year's penance for everyone you killed in battle, and forty days for everyone you wounded. If you were a priest or a monk you might be given extra penance by your bishop or abbot. Archers, who didn't know how many people they might have killed or wounded, had to do three periods of forty days' penance. The tariff went up if you did any of these things after the consecration of William the Conqueror, rather than in battle. It's an interesting attitude to war, that everyone who killed or wounded had to cleanse themselves afterwards, no matter whether they fought on the winning side -- very different from our modern way of dealing with it, which is victory parades on one side, war-crimes tribunals on the other.

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