Culture & History Digital Journal, Vol 6, No 2 (2017)

Assessing Consent through External Signs. Three Cases of Madness, Repulsion and Love before the Tribunal of the Roman Rota (1579-1619)


https://doi.org/10.3989/chdj.2017.014

Isabelle Poutrin
Université de Reims Champagne-Ardenne - Institut Universitaire de France, France
orcid http://orcid.org/0000-0002-8182-0769

Abstract


How can it be assumed that an individual is incapable of giving consent or does not give it freely? This article analyses three cases handled by the Tribunal of the Roman Rota between 1579 and 1619: the case of a nun from the monastery of Odivelas (Portugal) suffering from mental disorders, and two demands for nullification of marriage based on the grounds of duress exerted by immediate family; the case of Doña Antonia Portocarrero y Cárdenas, of the diocese of Seville, married to Don Felipe de Guzman y Aragón; and the case of Manuel de Meneses and Branca de Baredo of the diocese of Coimbra. The testimonies on file relate the words and actions of the main parties involved, revealing affects and intentions. Auditors embarked on a complex operation to translate this information into the language of the law, in the light of legal experts’ theories on individual responsibility and the nature of violence or constraints that may alter freedom of consent. Yet this also encompassed social practices and representations in which individual behaviours exist. This study illustrates the contrast between judges’ know-how in assessing the absence of consent regarding marriage or religious profession and the fact that these notions were not taken into account regarding consent to baptism.

Keywords


Justice; Marriage; Religious Profession; Canonical Law; Confession; Nobility; Medicine

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