The 'runaway religious' were monks, canons and friars who had taken vows of religion and who, with benefit of neither permission nor dispensation, fled their monasteries and returned to a life in the world, usually replacing the religious habit with lay clothes. No legal exit for the discontented was permitted - religious vows were like marriage vows in this respect - until the financial crisis caused by the Great Schism created a market in dispensations for priests in religious orders to leave, take benefices, and live as secular priests. The church therefore pursued runaways with her severest penalty, excommunication, in the express hope that penalties would lead to the return of the straying sheep. Once back, whether by free choice or by force, the runaway was received not with a feast for a prodigal but, in a rite of stark severity, with the imposition of penalties deemed suitable for a sinner.
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(216mm x 138mm x 18mm)
Cambridge University Press
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
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