The Stripping and the Shaming of Heretics
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In medieval Europe, social status was often indicated by clothing. Sartorial considerations might be used to reflect power and rank, or its removal might be a social mechanism for indicating shame and humiliation. In the context of heresy, that principle became a prevailing example of power and control. Medieval canon law mandated the defrocking of priests found worthy of excommunication. Jan Hus was defrocked during the Council of Constance. Stripping heretics or one’s enemies was a form of punishment underscoring contempt for medieval underworlds and an insistence upon social order and social categories. In the struggle against heresy and its repression, war and violence in Bohemia often featured the stripping and shaming of those who were conquered.