To Clement, the Prior of Oseney (Augustinian Priory, Diocese of Lincoln)
You have informed us in your letter that W., the bearer of your letter, had married a certain woman and after his marriage had fell into a incestuous relationship with his wife's sister and, by doing so, had committed adultery. He wallowed in this filth for three years. The sister bore twins from this adulterous relationship, and the crime became known to the neighbors. W. has pleaded abject poverty in the presence of our penitentiary, and he asserts that he cannot make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem that had been imposed upon him. Since you can more fully determine his means, we are sending him back to you. We mandate by this apostolic letter that you should give him a penance that you deem appropriate.
You have also asked to be advised what you should do about his wife. We briefly respond that his wife should be enjoined diligently to be continent until her husband dies and to abstain completely from mingling her flesh with his on account of public honesty. Nonetheless if the wife refuses to obey because she fears to lapse from chastity, her husband may and ought render the conjugal debt to her with the fear of the Lord. The reason is that affinity iniquitously contracted after the marriage ought not to injure her since she was not a participant in the iniquity. Consequently the wife should not be deprived of her right without her fault (unde iure suo sine sua non debet culpa privari). Notwithstanding whatever by certain of our predecessors had been decided in a similar case that either the adultery or incest was manifest or secret or as others have maintained whether the grade of consanguinity was close or remote, <the wife should not be deprived of her right>.
Pope Innocent III. Written at the Lateran on 24 February, 1203 in the sixth year of our pontificate.
Priori de Osene
Per tuas nobis litteras intimasti, quod W. lator presentium, post matrimonium cum quadam muliere contractum, cum sorore illius incestum simul et adulterium perpetravit et per triennium sorduit in hac sorde, ita quod geminam prolem ex adultera predicta suscepit, per quod crimen devenit ad notitiam vicinorum. Verum idem W. in penitentiarii nostri presentia constitutus paupertatem nimiam allegavit, asserens quod non posset Ierosolimitanam provinciam visitare. Quia igitiur facultatem eius plenius nosse potes, ipsum ad te duximus remittendum, discretioni tue per apostolica scripta mandantes, quatinus iniungas ei penitentiam, quam videris expedire.
Ceterum quia qualiter cum uxore sua decetero habere se debeat requisisti, tue inquisitioni breviter respondemus, quod ut ab eius commixtione prorsus abstineat propter publicam honestatem et in continentia maneat, donec vir viam fuerit universe carnis ingressus, uxor est diligentius commonenda. Quodsi forte commonitioni parere recusans talis fuerit, ut de lapsu timeatur ipsius, vir eius poterit et debebit tamen cum timore Domini debitum ipsi solvere coniugale, cum affinitas post matrimonium inique contracta illi nocere non debeat, que iniquitatis particeps non existit. Unde iure suo sine sua non debet culpa privari, quamquam a quodam predecessorum nostrorum dicatur in simili casu fuisse distinctum, utrum videlicet adulterium vel incestus manifestum fuerit vel occultum; aliis asserentibus inter gradum proximum et remotum esse potius distinguendum.
Datum Laterani, VI Kal. Martii, pontificatus nostri anno sexto.
To Arnald, Bishop of Gerona,
We have learned from your fraternity's* letter that the
bearer of it, G., has openly confessed that he often had intercourse with the mother of
the young girl who had not yet reached puberty to whom he was betrothed. Afterwards,
he had intercourse with the girl when she reached adulthood. You have petitioned us
humbly to respond what should be done for the soul of this man and whether the wife may be
permitted to marry a second time, since the facts of the case were public and notorious.
Innocent III. Written at Ferentino, 19 June, 1203
| Po. 1942
Ex litteris tue fraternitatis accepimus et G. lator earum aperta nobis confessione monstravit, quod . . . matrem cuiusdam puelle, quam infra nubiles annos desponsaverat in uxorem, carnaliter sepe cognovit et postmodum carnali commixtione puellam tractavit adultam, unde ipsius viri anime provideri humiliter postulasti, et utrum mulieri ad secundas nuptias ipso vivente liceat convolare, cum hoc factum publicum et notorium habeatur.
Nos autem eidem viro penitentiam iniungi fecimus pro peccato, consultationi tue taliter respondentes, quod, si res ita se habet, eis abinvicem penitus separatis mulier alteri viro non nubat, si, postquam novit viri et matris delictum, se carnaliter illi non erubuit commiscere. Vir etiam et mater mulieris ipsius numquam debent ad alias nuptias convolare, set semper continentiam servare tenentur et enorme deflere delictum, quod ex tam nephanda libidine contraxerunt, presertim si circa personas huiusmodi de lapsu carnis minime timeatur.
Datum Ferentini, XIII Kal. Iulii.
To Ramón de Rocaberti, Archbishop of Tarragona
Your fraternity has asked what you should do in a certain case, namely that B. de Belloloco and his wife Agnes had mutually sworn an oath that they would never ask for marital relations from the other. Now B. has asked her to return to the marriage bed insistently; she however has affirmed that she would rather become a Sarracen and lose her soul than return to him. The adulterous relationship in which she lived after she left B, she willingly abandoned afterwards, and, subsequently, both the husband and wife promised and swore an oath of chastity.
We respond to your fraternity's question and through apostolic letters mandate that you warn both parties to observe continence and that you induce them both if they want to promise continence, you will send them both away without the other to live separately. However, if the man does not want to promise continence, you should compel the wife to return to him and live with him as his wife under threat of excommunication without appeal. She had, after all, committed two crimes: swearing a rash oath and adultery.
Pope Innocent III Written on the 20 June, 1203 at Ferentino
Tua nos duxit fraternitas consulendos, quid tibi sit super hoc articulo faciendum: videlicet, quod B. de Belloloco et Agnes uxor ipsius olim adinvicem iuraverunt se numquam mutuo petituros. Idem vero nunc repetit illam instanter eo econtrario affirmante, quod prius se faceret Sarracenam et perderet animam suam, quam rediret ad eum, sed adulterum, cui adhesit, postquam recessit ab eo, libenter dimitteret et castitatem promitteret et iuraret.
Nos igitur fraternitati tue super hoc respondentes per apostolica tibi scripta mandamus, quatinus utrumque ad continentiam observandam moneas attentius et inducas, quam si promittere voluerint et servare, utrumque dimittas sine alio commorari. Alioquin, si vir noluerit continere, tu predictam uxorem ipsius, ut revertatur ad eum et tamquam uxor cum viro moretur, per excommunicationis sententiam appellatione remota compellas cum et temerarium fuerit huiusmodi iuramentum et adulterium sit utrimque commissum.
Datum Ferentini, XII Kal. Iulii.