The Detection Of Heresy In Late Medieval England

Hardcover | October 31, 2005

byIan Forrest

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Heresy was the most feared crime in the medieval moral universe. It was seen as a social disease capable of poisoning the body politic and shattering the unity of the church. The study of heresy in late medieval England has, to date, focused largely on the heretics. In consequence, we knowvery little about how this crime was defined by the churchmen who passed authoritative judgement on it.By examining the drafting, publicizing, and implementing of new laws against heresy in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, using published and unpublished judicial records, this book presents the first general study of inquisition in medieval England. In it Ian Forrest argues that becauseheresy was a problem simultaneously national and local, detection relied upon collaboration between rulers and the ruled. While involvement in detection brought local society into contact with the apparatus of government, uneducated laymen still had to be kept at arm's length, because judgementsabout heresy were deemed too subtle and important to be left to them. Detection required bishops and inquisitors to balance reported suspicions against canonical proof, and threats to public safety against the rights of the suspect and the deficiencies of human justice.At present, the character and significance of heresy in late medieval England is the subject of much debate. Ian Forrest believes that this debate has to be informed by a greater awareness of the legal and social contexts within which heresy took on its many real and imagined attributes.

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Heresy was the most feared crime in the medieval moral universe. It was seen as a social disease capable of poisoning the body politic and shattering the unity of the church. The study of heresy in late medieval England has, to date, focused largely on the heretics. In consequence, we knowvery little about how this crime was defined...

Ian Forrest is at Research Fellow, All Souls College, Oxford.

other books by Ian Forrest

Format:HardcoverDimensions:292 pages, 8.5 × 5.43 × 0.9 inPublished:October 31, 2005Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199286922

ISBN - 13:9780199286928

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Table of Contents

Note on canon law citations and bishops' registersIntroductionI: Legislation1. Questions of Knowledge and Ignorance2. The Investigation of Heresy3. The Techniques of DetectionII: Communication4. Statutes and the Circulation of Knowledge5. The Channels of Propaganda6. The Content of PropagandaIII: Implementation7. Reporting Heresy8. The Social Contours of Heresy-DetectionConclusionBibliographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

`This most interesting and well-written book sets out to fill a gap in the ever-growing literature about heresy in England.'The Journal of Theological Studies