Infanticide in the Middle Ages: Cross Perspectives from Canon Law, the Courts, Health Care, and the Confessional

Saturday, January 4, 2020: 10:50 AM
Madison Square (Sheraton New York)
Sara McDougall, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York
Canon law had little to say about illicit pregnancy or illegitimate children. The murder of infants, abortion, and the abandonment of children are all condemned, but with some ambiguity. This contribution will review the canons laws on these subjects and considered as well how they circulated and were applied in practice in Medieval France. Rather than consider these laws in isolation, this presentation will address the role of canonical ideas about infant murder and neglect as found in secular and ecclesiastical prescriptive texts and court records, in hospital regulations, and also in the "internal" forum of penance and confession.

Short abstract (does not seem to upload in its section):

This paper presents the canon law on abandonment, abortion, and murder of infants in theory and in practice in Medieval France. It will examine the application of laws on infant murder in judicial proceedings, in hospital regulations, and also in practices of confession and absolution.