Marriage, Motherhood and Woman in Carolingian Edifying Literature
THE SPECIFICITY OF CAROLINGIAN EDIFYING LITERATURE: CONCLUSIONS AND EXPLANATORY REFLECTIONS 265
265 THE SPECIFICITY OF CAROLINGIAN EDIFYING LITERATURE: CONCLUSIONS AND EXPLANATORY REFLECTIONS Carolingian authors in their edifying texts never express any contempt of marriage as an institution, nor of motherhood as a pre-eminent female destination and neither of woman as a woman. The present research consequently confirms Toubert's thesis that the Carolingian Church does not circulate an anti-marriage model. Misogamy indeed is not only absent from the specula coniugatorum and from popular sermons but also from saints' lives and from sermons and moral treatises addressed to a religious audience 1• Virginity, even though it is only rarely and in a very specific context seen as the original state of man before the Fall, is considered to be the ideal way of life for an ascetic minority which sometimes even seen as an elite. Still, the Carolingian authors' -as opposed to e.g. many 12th century authors2- have no difficulty in accepting the fact that the larger part of human beings do not stay virgin3 . Their attitude towards marriage and sexuality is more than a pragmatic recognition of human weakness or physical needs, as Bishop puts it4 • The authors as a rule consider sexuality as a morally neutral and God-willed fact with an important social function, viz. creating offspring. However, like in the Jewish world, sexuality is also a polluting phenomenon and hence incompatible with the sacral sphere. Marriage and sexuality cannot go together with a religious life, nor can the sexual dimension of marriage be reconciled with holiness; it is within this...
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