Excommunication in Thirteenth Century England

Communities, Politics, and Publicity Felicity Hill, Lecturer in Medieval History Felicity Hill. 57 excommunication , provided that absolution took place , understanding that the destination for those who had not ( yet ) been absolved ...

Excommunication in Thirteenth Century England

Excommunication was the medieval church's most severe sanction, used against people at all levels of society. It was a spiritual, social, and legal penalty. Excommunication in Thirteenth-Century England offers a fresh perspective on medieval excommunication by taking a multi-dimensional approach to discussion of the sanction. Using England as a case study, Felicity Hill analyses the intentions behind excommunication; how it was perceived and received at both the national and local levels; and the effects it had upon individuals and society. The study is structured thematically to argue that our understanding of excommunication should be shaped by how it was received within the community as well as the intentions of canon law and clerics. Challenging assumptions about the inefficacy of excommunication, Hill argues that the sanction remained a useful weapon for the clerical elite. Bringing into dialogue a wide range of source material allows 'effectiveness' to be judged within a broader context. The complexity of political communication and action are revealed through public, conflicting, accepted, and rejected excommunications. Excommunication was a means by which political events were communicated down the social strata of medieval society, and this can be seen in such disparate aspects of society as pastoral care, cursing, fears about the afterlife, the implications of social ostracism, manipulations of excommunication in political conflicts, shame and reputation, and mass communication.

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