Program

Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships , Mellon/ACLS Recent Doctoral Recipients Fellowships

Project

“As Long as their Sin is Privy”: Priests and Concubines in England, 1375-1549

Project

‘Just As the Priests Have Their Wives’: Priests and Concubines in England, 1375-1549

“As Long as their Sin is Privy”: Priests and Concubines in England, 1375-1549

This dissertation—the first in-depth analysis of clerical concubinage in medieval England—examines the lived experiences of priests, concubines, and their children, as well as perceptions of clerical sexual behavior. While much has been written on the imposition of priestly celibacy during the Gregorian reforms and on its rejection during the Reformation, the history of clerical concubinage between these two watersheds has remained largely unstudied. This project combines a quantitative analysis of documentary evidence with a close reading of literary source material, and suggests both that clerical concubinage occurred more frequently than historians have recognized and that notions of clerical sexuality were an integral element of medieval society and culture.

‘Just As the Priests Have Their Wives’: Priests and Concubines in England, 1375-1549

This project—the first in-depth analysis of clerical concubinage in medieval England—examines the lived experiences of priests, concubines, and their children as well as cultural perceptions of clerical sexual misbehavior. While much has been written on the imposition of priestly celibacy during the Gregorian reforms and on its rejection during the Reformation, the history of clerical concubinage between these two watersheds has remained largely unstudied. This study combines the quantitative analysis of documentary evidence with a close reading of literary texts; it suggests both that clerical concubinage occurred more frequently than historians have recognized, and that much of late medieval society viewed errant priests with an ambivalence that bordered on acceptance.