Att ursäktas för sin börd En undersökning av påvliga dispenser för oäkta börd till klerker och klosterfolk i den svenska kyrkoprovinsen under perioden 1255-1372
To be Pardoned for One’s Birth A Brief Study of Papal Dispensations for Illegitimacy Directed to Clerics, Monks and Nuns of the Swedish Ecclesiastical Province 1255-1372
This study aims to delineate the discourse of the canonical issue of the defectus natalium, the defect of birth, ascribed to medieval Catholic clergy of illegitimate birth, which prevented ordination to the Holy Orders or advancement to higher monastic offices. Using papal dispensations directed to Swedish clerics, monks and nuns during the period 1255-1372, the essay attempts to outline the official attitude of the papal authority towards illegitimate birth among its servants and how such a defect could be compensated by the individual. The study argues that various circumstances and personal qualities could be addressed to support the case of the supplicant. The main themes include an observance of clerical celibacy, scholarly learning, pilgrimage permeated by hardship, intervention of a third party, loyalty to the Church and overall practical circumstances that demanded a dispensation for the benefit of the ecclesiastical institutions. Drawing some inspiration from Michel Foucault’s conception of discourse, the essay argues that a polarizing discourse had by the 13th century been formed within the Catholic Church, which focused on a dichotomy of the legitimate and illegitimate cleric. The varying representations found in the dispensations are thus to be seen as a means to reclaim the illegitimate cleric’s closeness to God and to the Church, which the dichotomy had obstructed. The essay further contains a brief discussion of how the dispensations and the knowledge brought forward by this study can provide teachers in Swedish primary schools (Grundskolan) with valuable didactic material that corresponds well with the Swedish national curriculum.
Ecclesiastical Province of Uppsala