Suicide in the Middle Ages - were there any? Who committed it? What did everyone else think? In addressing these questions, the book makes an odyssey through medieval law, social life, literature and religion. In Volume I of his trilogy, Alexander Murray rediscovers the suicides which took place; in Volumes II and III, he will go on to explore attitudes to suicide amongst the living.
Alexander Murray has long had an intellectual interest in the history of religion - struggling between his inbuilt anti-clericism and his pronounced monastic leanings. The five essays in Conscience and Authority in the Medieval Church take on this dialectic, addressing the difficult relationship between private conscience and public authority in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. In any organization, political, military, commercial, or religious, the relationship of conscience and authority is always potentially fraught, and can create dilemmas both for those in authority and those without. This volume records how our European predecessors approached and dealt with the same dilemmas as we face in the modern world.
This is a pre-1923 historical reproduction that was curated for quality. Quality assurance was conducted on each of these books in an attempt to remove books with imperfections introduced by the digitization process. Though we have made best efforts - the books may have occasional errors that do not impede the reading experience. We believe this work is culturally important and have elected to bring the book back into print as part of our continuing commitment to the preservation of printed works worldwide.
A group of men dig a tunnel under the threshold of a house. Then they go and fetch a heavy, sagging object from inside the house, pull it out through the tunnel, and put it on a cow-hide to be dragged off and thrown into the offal-pit. Why should the corpse of a suicide - for that is what it is - have earned this unusual treatment? In The Curse on Self-Murder, Alexander Murray explores the origin of the condemnation of suicide, in a quest which leads along the most unexpected byways of medieval theology, law, mythology, and folklore -and, indeed, in some instances beyond them. At an epoch when there might be plenty of ostensible reasons for not wanting to live, the ways used to block the suicidal escape route give a unique perspective on medieval religion.