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Defiant Priests$
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Michelle Armstrong-Partida

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781501707735

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501707735.001.0001

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Proof of Manhood

Proof of Manhood

Priests as Husbands and Fathers

(p.82) Chapter 2 Proof of Manhood
Defiant Priests

Michelle Armstrong-Partida

Cornell University Press

This chapter looks at the sexuality of parish clergy and their masculine identity, exploring why priests were involved in relationships that were, for all intents and purposes, marriages. Indiscriminate sex alone was not enough to prove manliness; marriage and progeny were central attributes of the dominant forms of masculinity in medieval society. However, acquiring adult male status and attaining the role of paterfamilias was more than just a way for clerics to take part in a common social practice. Although clerical unions would never be on par with lay marriages because they lacked legal recognition and the ceremonial trappings of a relationship sanctioned in the eyes of the Church, these marriage-like relationships nevertheless afforded clerics important social and familial roles as husbands and fathers. Moreover, the role of husband and father allowed clerics to participate in the culture of lay masculinity.

Keywords:   sexuality, masculine identity, paterfamilias, clerical unions, familial roles, lay masculinity, marriage

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