By Zubin Mistry

While a Spanish monk struggled to discover the ideal phrases to show 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 stumbled on herself accused of abortion in an altogether extra fleshly feel. Abortion haunts the written list around the early center a while. but, the centuries after the autumn of Rome stay greatly the "dark a while" within the broader historical past of abortion.
This booklet, the 1st to regard the topic during this interval, tells the tale of the way participants and groups, ecclesiastical and secular professionals, construed abortion as a social and ethical challenge throughout a couple of 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 gentle at the missed 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 heritage of abortion into dialog with key questions on gender, sexuality, Christianization, penance and legislations. Ranging throughout abortion miracles in hagiography, polemical letters during 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 value of abortion in early medieval societies.

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Extra info for Abortion in the Early Middle Ages, c.500-900

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266. indd 20 19/06/2015 14:12 Introduction ture of tradition in the ninth century was more uneven than the smooth picture in older narratives suggests. There was no clear dichotomy between penitential rulings and conciliar canons, though there was a creative tension between authority and innovation in the development of church tradition on abortion. We will contextualize what counted as authoritative on abortion in Carolingian contexts together with authors’ improvisations when confronted with problems not directly addressed by tradition.

Anyone who dispensed an abortifacient or aphrodisiac drink (abortionis aut amatorium poculum) was liable to be sent to the mines or, if from the upper class, exiled to an island because, ‘although [perpetrators] may do no harm, nonetheless … the matter sets a bad example’. 21 The principal laws quoted above were collected in the Digest, part of the great legal project undertaken during the reign of Justinian (d. 565). From the perspective of late Roman Christian emperors and their jurists, Roman legal approaches to abortion formed part of an inheritance that was centuries old.

225). Tertullian used embryotomy, taught (so he claimed) by the medical heavyweights Hippocrates, Asclepiades, Herophilus, Erasistratus and even the milder (mitior) Soranus, to refute the argument that the soul was not conceived in the womb but only later after birth. If embryotomy killed a fetus, Tertullian 30 See Kapparis, Abortion, pp. 15, 29. 25, ed. C. Mayhoff, C. Plinii Secundi Naturalis historiae libri XXXVII, 6 vols. (Stuttgart, 1967–70), IV, p. 124. 85, IV, p. 398; on Pliny’s pro-natalist approach to recording reproductive information, see R.

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


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