Published online by Cambridge University Press: 03 September 2021
From a numerical perspective, ecclesiastical court activity in Catalonia aligns well with the Italian evidence. What distinguishes pastoral intervention is the abundance of surviving visitation registers. Beginning soon after 1300, diocesan prelates toured their parishes and had juries of clergy and laymen respond to questionnaires itemizing sinful behavior. Against Northern convention, they did not probe into mere episodes of intercourse and concentrated on sustained sexual partnerships like concubinage. Disciplinary measures were usually of a spiritual kind and depended for implementation on voluntary submission or neighborhood pressure. Two levels of excommunication could be inflicted on those unwilling to adjust their domestic situation to canonical demands. If absolution was granted, the commutation of penances into monetary payment only applied as elsewhere in the South to laity living under the bishop’s secular lordship. Adherence to the injunctions of visiting clerics appears to have been lackluster, unless hearsay about the impediments of consanguinity and affinity triggered judicial scrutiny, created demand for papal dispensations, or necessitated their formal execution.
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