Interrogating anger in the new penitential literature of the thirteenth century

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Three main clerical perspectives on the vice of wrath emerge from this survey of thirteenth-century manuals that guided confessors when interrogating penitents and that influenced how they discussed anger. William Peraldus's ascetical and spiritual-theological perspective emphasized the wrathful soul's disquiet and how it leads to harmful behavior and estrangement from God. Raymond of Peñafort's juridical approach measured overt, anti-social sins against Church law. John of Freiburg supplemented the juridical approach with moral theology from Thomas Aquinas. Although Thomistic psychology acknowledged the social nature of wrath much more than its spiritual aspects, Thomas's concern was with probing the individual's personal responsibility for anti-social sins and discord. Moreover, although all sought to balance the personal and social aspects of anger in various ways, manual writers did not present confession as a forum for interpersonal reconciliation, as has been postulated by historians interested in the social uses of penance in conflict resolution.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203-219
Number of pages17
JournalViator - Medieval and Renaissance Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Anger
  • Confession
  • Emotion
  • John of freiburg
  • Penance
  • Raymond of peñafort
  • Reconciliation
  • Thomas aquinas
  • Thomas of chobham
  • Vices
  • William perladus
  • Wrath


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