Monastic Prisons and Torture Chambers: Crime and Punishment in Central European Monasteries, 1600-1800

Cascade, 2013
ISBN: 9781625640406
Format:

Overview

Following the Council of Trent (1545–1563), Catholic religious orders underwent substantial reform. Nevertheless, on occasion monks and nuns had to be disciplined and—if they had committed a crime—punished. Consequently, many religious orders relied on sophisticated criminal law traditions that included torture, physical punishment, and prison sentences. Ulrich L. Lehner provides, for the first time, an overview of how monasteries in central Europe prosecuted crime and punished their members, and thus introduces a host of new questions for anyone interested in state-church relations, gender questions, the history of violence, or the development of modern monasticism.

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Key Features

  • Provides an overview of how Central European monasteries prosecuted and punished members
  • Examines the use of torture in monastic legal proceedings
  • Explores neglected evidence on prisons and trials
  • Looks at the treatment of the insane and mentally ill

Contents

  • Legends, Myths, and Misconceptions
  • Confinement for Criminals and the Insane—Differences between Orders and Genders
  • What Was a Monastic Prison Like?
  • Orders with and without “Prisons”: Difference between Orders and Genders
  • The Franciscan “Criminal Trial”
  • Physical Assault and Assassination Attempts in Female Convents
  • Fornication and Child Abuse
  • Escapes from the Cloister

Praise for the Print Edition

Lehner’s brave, ambitious, and learned study uncovers the little-known history of secret monastic prisons for wayward monks and nuns, and the clandestine use of torture in monastic legal proceedings. . . . This is church history at its best. It deserves to be widely known and imitated.

—H.C. Erik Midelfort, Julian Bishko Professor of History, emeritus, University of Virginia

In this path-breaking, lucid book, Ulrich Lehner challenges conventional wisdom on the nature and purpose of prisons and punishment in early modern central Europe. Exploiting neglected evidence on monastic prisons and trial procedures, he demonstrates that the Mendicant orders continued medieval standards as the post-Tridentine religious adopted milder discipline. . . . A book of major significance, it will spur further research into our understanding of confinement and punishment.

Gregg Roeber, professor of early modern history and religious studies, Pennsylvania State University

Ulrich Lehner, who has become a master of all things Catholic in eighteenth-century Europe, here examines the sorry record of crime and punishment within selected European monasteries. His conclusion is persuasive—that moral failings of these institutions should not overwhelm other evidence of improved moral standards in the Tridentine Church. All who look for a fuller account of official Catholicism in the era whipsawed by both the Enlightenment and rising governmental absolutism will thank him for the careful research underlying this book.

Mark A. Noll, Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History, University of Notre Dame

Product Details

  • Title: Monastic Prisons and Torture Chambers: Crime and Punishment in Central European Monasteries, 1600–1800
  • Author: Ulrich L. Lehner
  • Publisher: Wipf & Stock
  • Publication Date: 2013
  • Pages: 118
  • Resource Type: Histories
  • Topic: Church History

About Ulrich L. Lehner

Ulrich L. Lehner is associate professor of historical theology and religious history at Marquette University. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on early modern religion, including Enlightened Monks, and is the main organizer of The Oxford Handbook of Early Modern Theology.

Sample Pages from the Print Edition