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Monday, November 9, 2009

The Monday Ground Up: The Catholic Church During Charlemagne


The Catholic Church at the time of Charlemagne had significant impact on the lives of the Frankish people. There was fusion of cultural ideals which directly influenced family life, sexuality, and the views of children.

Marriages were arranged by the fathers and uncles, and wives were expected to remain faithful to their husbands, even if they kept concubines and remained unfaithful to them. The Catholic Church insisted on blessing the marriage, although at that time, marriage was civil arrangement.

The emphasize on monogamy by the church led to a law, or rather a right to prohibit divorce, even if the woman was sterile or unattractive. This right was not accepted gracefully. This institution, considered to still be a frigid moral establishment, led to the nuclear family, whereby the power of the household went to the eldest woman, although her place as a wife was still dominated by her husband.

Celibacy was stressed as part of the sanctity of marriage, although during the Middle Ages, this proved to be impossible. Thus, the church felt that marriage was the lesser of two evils. Couples could engage in sexual intercourse if married, only if it was fir the purpose of procreation and not pleasure. In this arrangement, contraceptives were forbidden and abortions were frowned upon, even though herbal remedies were often used to prevent contraception.

The condemnation of sexual activity outside marriage also included homosexuality, even though Roman Law had never recognized any difference between heterosexuality and homosexuality. How odd that the evolution and acceptance of homosexuality under Roman Law was never seen as a problem, although today, our law that was derived from the Romans mysteriously excludes homosexual relations.

The Catholic Church listed wergelds, whose size represented a persons worth. In the past, the limiting of children through infanticide was used often by Roman families, however now the adoption of personal worth was used to determine where a child would end up. Males were valued at solidi until they became warriors, then their worth increased to 300.

Females were around 30, then it increased to 250 when they were able to bear children. Unwanted children were abandoned or donated to the Catholic Church and were raised as nuns and monks.

The strict code of law by the church in the Middle Ages led to the development of institutions of marriage and the condemnation of infanticide. Of course, these laws were impossible to enforce, especially when it came to celibacy during the Middle Ages. The way of life was challenged on a daily basis, be it in secret, Germanic peoples still managed to work around the strict control of the Catholic Church and they still do today, trying to avoid their strict ideals and moral codes.




Throne of Charlemagne and the subsequent German Kings in Aachen Cathedral

3 Comments:

Doug Pologe said...

The Romans might not have objected to homosexuality, but the Law of Moses sure does!

The Ancient Digger said...

Doug,
I was hinting at the fact that the United States government was derived from Roman Law, however there was no code in place to prohibit homosexuality. Although, it's prohibited now in many places that have evolved their beliefs that exclude it.

WillOaks Studio said...

You work so hard on The Ancient Digger, I've given this lovely blog an award! http://willoaksstudio.blogspot.com/2009/11/best-blog-award.html
Thanks for your great work and have fun!

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