Priests’ Wives and Concubines in the Medieval West (800-1200)

Our project focuses on clerical celibacy in its medieval context—the celibacy rulings of the eleventh century and their Carolingian precedents—examining the implications of celibacy not just for priests (as others have done), but for women, and particularly for priests’ wives. In these linked workshops, we examine the celibacy movement from a gendered standpoint, investigating the effects on medieval communities and families of the movement to eliminate priests’ wives. More broadly, our purpose is to excavate a history of clerical wives and concubines, whose erasure was fundamental to the emergence of the Latin Church as a single-sex hierarchy during the central Middle Ages.


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