IRRC No. 1

Penitential discipline and Public Wars in the Middle Ages: A Mediaeval Contribution to the development of humanitarian law

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An exposé of the nature of the penitentials would take us far into the long history of penance in the Eastern and Western Churches of Christendom and, in particular, to the supersession of public by private penance. In spite of the efforts of many scholars the steps in this process are still far from clear. All that can be said here is that the system of private penance depicted in the penitentials appears in the North West corner of Christendom at a time when public penance was virtually obsolete throughout the rest of Christendom.

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