>>The impotence test was also used by ecclesiastical courts on the
>By chance, would you know of the approriate decretals/glosses for this
>(or a secondary source to point the way)? I'd be interested for future
Lacking your skills in medieval Latin, I go with the secondary sources in
these matters. Try James Brundage, _Law, Sex and Society in Medieval
Europe_, U of Chicago: 1987. He discusses the impotence test and includes a
medieval miniature showing the exam in progress, with two clerics looking
on (the seated one appears to be the judge). Another quite learned source
(though you might not find her views congenial) is Uta Ranke-Heinemann,
_Eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven_, who is certain to give chapter and
verse (she was the first woman to ever be creditialed as a Catholic
theologian). She cites numerous synods, for example, denouncing the use of
impotence magic to obstruct marital relations.
Both of these sources give quite a sobering view of the harsh realities
imposed on women, especially, by the architects of canon law. I won't
easily forget reading theologian after theologian declaring that oral sex,
gay sex and masturbation were worse sins than rape, incest or murder. Even
the approved style of men-on-top intercourse was called filthy, staining,
disgusting, shameful, infected, and corrupted (by Aquinas and Albertus M.)
BTW if you're interested in the genesis of the canonical link of
sorcery/impotence, Hincmar of Reims was one of the first to write about
this, and I've seen several writers credit him as a starting point for
later doctrine making impotence by sorcery one of the loopholes for
>>The clerics used prostitutes to carry out these tests.
>Are you sure about this? In the documents I've seen, the ecclesiastical
>courts were very sticky about asserting that the witnesses or deponents
>were of good fame and reputation. Of course, if they were deputized...
It's been awhile since I read about this, but this is what I remember. I
very much doubt they would have used "respectable" married women, much
less virgins, for this kind of test! Probably the women themselves were not
considered as legal witnesses, requiring male observers.
> The reactions to such things by
>the Counter-Reformers may have had an effect on our modern interpretation ...
I had modern interpretations in mind, but then again, the bawdy medieval
mainstream seems to have had very little in common with Albertus Magnus or
Peter Damian, and probably had their own withering commentary on dogma