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The Measure of MultitudePopulation in Medieval Thought$

Peter Biller

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780199265596

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199265596.001.0001

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William of Auvergne

William of Auvergne

(p.60) 3 William of Auvergne
The Measure of Multitude

Peter Biller

Oxford University Press

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter focuses on William of Auvergne and one work of his, On the sacrament of marriage. William took a remarkable comparative and historical-geographic view of different faiths and laws in the world, and this is the background for an equally remarkable treatment of the sacrament of marriage. In effect, much of this is a comparison of Christian, Jewish, and Saracen marriages, and a great deal of it is ‘demographic’.

Keywords:   On the sacrament of marriage, demographic thought, William of Auvergne

In this chapter we are looking only at William, and at one work of his, On the sacrament of marriage. William and this work in part exemplify the suggestions which conclude the previous chapter. William took a remarkable comparative and historical-geographic view of different faiths and laws in the world, and this is the background for an equally remarkable treatment of the sacrament of marriage. In effect much of this is a comparison of Christian, Jewish, and Saracen marriages, and a great deal of it is ‘demographic’. There is acute and original comment on fertility, numerousness, avoidance of birth, and the numerical proportion of men and women in the population. William, then, constitutes one phase in the history of medieval demographic thought, as one of the most important figures writing in the 1220s and 1230s. But ‘exemplify’ can be taken too far. William wrote outside the mainstream of theological writing of this period, whose forms and conventional themes he bypassed. The marriage treatise's freedom from these means that there is an unusually thin veil between the modern reader and William's thoughts, and William's ‘demographic’ thoughts are themselves unusually acute: taken as more widely representative of ‘thinking demographically’, they would mislead. While it is not difficult when looking at other Paris theologians at this time, figures such as Gui of Orchelles, William of Auxerre, and Hugh of St Cher, to find areas of overlap which suggest mutual awareness, reference and influence, it is more difficult to bring William into the picture. Since this period in the history of thought at Paris is quite dark, this impression which I have gained—of an almost uncanny silence among contemporary academics—may be incorrect.

3.1 William, and his treatise On marriage

There has been no modern attempt to write a general account of William,1 and there is little precise knowledge of his scholastic career. Born probably around (p.61) 1180, by 1223 William was a canon of Notre-Dame, and in 1228 he became bishop of Paris. He played major roles in the affairs of the University of Paris and as a familiar of the French royal court, and he died in 1249. The treatise analysed in this chapter2 is a part of a larger treatise on the sacraments, which is conjecturally dated to around 1228.3 In establishing contexts for parts of the treatise I shall refer to William's life after 1228 as well as before, partly because the possibilities of early versions and later revisions have not been explored by modern scholarship, and partly because strong continuities will have predominated over sudden change in at least some areas of William's experience—for example, his pastoral view of Paris. The treatise on marriage, 14,500 words long, is divided into ten chapters,4 and we must first explore the quite extraordinary distinctiveness of the work.

There are several treatments of marriage by theologians who were writing in Paris near this time which can be compared to William's treatise. These are the sections on marriage in the De sacramentis of Gui of Orchelles (written not long after 1216/17), in the Summa aurea of a much more famous Paris teacher, William of Auxerre (written after about 1218),5 and Alexander of Hales's 1220s gloss on the Lombard's Sentences. These works have much in common. Though neither Gui's nor William of Auxerre's works are glosses on the Sentences, the Sentences hang heavily over both, and it would be absurd to read either without having a copy of the Sentences open beside you. For both Gui and William of Auxerre write within the Lombard's world. The topics, the order of treatment, the questions raised, the texts adduced (and therefore the very words used): all these are principally the Lombard's.

William of Auvergne's treatise cannot avoid some overlaps with the tradition within which Gui, William of Auxerre, and Alexander of Hales were writing. There are a few utterly standard questions. ‘There is a debate (quaestio) among some’ about the consent given by those who are driven only by lust, whether this consent (p.62) is matrimonial or only ‘amatory’ (amatoria), and ‘Some ask whether someone who knows his wife only for voluptas sins mortally’;6 and there are the questions on the sacramental virtue of marriage, the virtue of virginity and continence, and the plurality of the wives of the patriarchs.7 On the last, as we shall see, William was reluctant to accept the conventional line. Occasionally William deigns to use the Lombard, albeit silently, as in his use of the commonplace of Jews’ hardheartedness to explain Old Testament permission of divorce. However, virtually all of William's treatise simply bypasses the topics covered by the Lombard (and Alexander's gloss), Gui of Orchelles, or William of Auxerre. The double institution of marriage is discussed in Peter the Lombard's first distinction on marriage, Gui of Orchelle's first article on marriage, William of Auxerre's first chapter on marriage: it is not to be found in William of Auvergne. Consent as the efficient cause of marriage is discussed in the Lombard's second distinction, Gui of Orchelle's second article, William of Auxerre's second chapter: not in William of Auvergne. Further, even on the few topics where overlap is inevitable, William nearly always adopts his own tack and his own vocabulary.

Aloof from these more conventional works, William's treatise is also distinguished by the importance it accords to marriage in other major faiths, Jewish and Saracen. Especially the latter. William had a world-view of the variety of laws (diversitas legum), faiths, and sects, the subject of his treatises De fide and De legibus (On faith, On laws), and he read widely and deeply on Saracens and the law of Mahomet.8 William used the Koran, and he uses and cites by title the revelations of the pseudo-Methodius, the RisālatAbdillāh ibn-lsmaīl al-Hāshimi ilaAbd-al-Masih ïbn Ishāq al-Kindi wa-Risālat al-Kindi ila al-Hāshimi (henceforth referred to as the Risālat of Al-Kindi), a treatise, purporting to be an exchange of letters between a Christian and a follower of Mahomet,9 and Avicenna's Philosophia prima.10 His knowledge of many more authors and texts is clearly indicated by passing allusions to Arab philosophers, the ‘many of the wise men of his race’ (multi de sapientibusgentis suae) who have believed in Mahomet, and to the many western accounts of Mahomet, ‘the others [in whose writings] much is read about his life and deeds’ (de vita ejus et gestis apud alios multa leguntur).11 More light would be thrown on William if it could be established whether these (p.63) ‘others’ included Jacques de Vitry's Historia orientalis. Unusual in William was not only the extent of such reading but the combination—on the one hand Arab philosophers, whom he respected, and on the other hand the polemical and partly fantasy-ridden Christian accounts of Mahomet and his followers. He handled this wide range of sources like an academic, listing and distinguishing sources.12

Several effects are detectable in William, first of all some moderation. Certainly, there was opprobrium in his account of the followers of Mahomet,13 and two sentences in the marriage treatise contain flashes of the lurid, tabloid, material on the Saracens. One is a passing reference to eastern slave-markets, where William alludes to the inhumanity and contempt for children of men who use their wives to breed children like breeding pigs, to sell in the market.14 The other comes in one of his arguments, based on equity, against a multiplicity of wives, where the vast numbers he envisages—ten men to twenty-thousand women—recall the spirit of western fantasizing about Saracens and sex.15 However, in the treatise on marriage that is all, and William put considerable weight upon the other scale. Mahomet's law contained unworthiness, certainly, but it also contained ‘worthiness’ (honestas), and ‘many true and good things’, and one point weighing on this scale was that Mahomet forbade sodomy.16

Strongly influencing William and providing some of this moral balance was his reading of the calm philosophic discourses of Arabic sapientes, philosophers, whom he also knew and saw as followers of Mahomet: wicked Saracens and wise Arabs were not coralled into separate parts of his mind. Chief among the wise Arabs was Avicenna, and chief among Avicenna's works, in its influence on William's view of Saracen marriage, was one part of Avicenna's Metaphysicswhich was known in its western Latin translation as the Philosophia prima.

At the end of this work the Arab philosopher dealt briefly with the qualities of the prophet (or legislator), and the prophet's dispositions for human communities. Here Avicenna writes of the ‘city’, the need for ‘laws’ and ‘conventions’, and the necessity of ‘communication in human association’. He deals with ‘the binding together of the city and the binding together of the house and sex and about general constitutions concerning this’, mentions the relation between the right (p.64) ordering of marriage and peace in the community, states that ‘there should be laws concerning this union’, and then proceeds to outline these laws.17 The principal source of Aristotle's approach to marriage within the city, the Politics, had not been translated into Arabic, and it was therefore the only important work of Aristotle's not available to Avicenna. But enough survives in his other ‘moral works’, especially the Ethics, for Avicenna to be able to absorb and reproduce something of the style of Aristotle's approach.18 Thus to some degree reading the Philosophia prima did for William what the Politics was to do for later western authors, in holding up a model of a particular style of discourse about marriage's place in the human community, its relation to peace, and the necessity for legislation about it. Clearly indebted to the Philosophia prima is the style of discussion of marriage which William's treatise sometimes displays, when describing marriage as a building-block in wider human communities, with whose ‘public good’ it is linked, and when taking as a theme the necessity of laws and magistracy dealing with marriage.19 Some parallels are very close. For example, Avicenna's identification of fornication and sodomy, as marriage's two enemies in the city, is echoed by William's identification of ‘prostituting fornication’ and ‘sodomy’ as the two enemies of marriage's fertility.20 While most western authors wrote of ‘sin against nature’, ‘sin of Sodom’, ‘sodomite’ (sodomita), or confined their use to the adjective ‘sodomitic’, the translation of the Philosophia prima used a noun which is rare in western Latin, sodomīa, and William, ever a lover of essentializing nouns, took this over from Avicenna.21 Again, William's description of Saracens’ grounds for repudiation, when wives become odious in various ways to their husbands, is close to the three reasons listed by Avicenna.22 Even the centrality of the word voluptas in his treatise, especially in chapters 7–8—rather than concupiscentia or luxuria (concupiscence, lust)—probably came about through William's sharp reaction to a brief reference in the Philosophia prima to voluptas as natural.23

William's form is equally independent. Although William does raise ‘questions’ and ‘determines’ them in a few chapters, what is remarkable is the very small proportion of his treatise that is momentarily shaped by such exercises, and also what these lack. For there is scarcely a trace of the usual scaffolding—the posing of thesis, counter-thesis and reply, with authorities and reasons paraded under each. It is difficult to convey to anyone who has not read both William of Auvergne and contemporaries, such as William of Auxerre, writing within strict (p.65) and constricting forms, the extraordinary air of freedom which blows through William of Auvergne's prose. Throughout the treatise William writes in a very simple and free form. He expounds and comments; then he expounds and comments further and further,24 with some of the developments of comments leading into a digression. When this has happened, he simply cuts straight back to the previous point, at its last stage. With similar simplicity he links arguments by signalling that he is going forward, writing ‘further’ (amplius), or that he is returning after a digression, writing, ‘now let us return to where we were’ (Nunc autem revertamur ad id in quo eramus). It has been suggested that his style was influenced by Avicenna.25

It is also difficult to convey the distinctiveness of William's vocabulary, and the insidious ways in which his characteristic thesaurus of words shapes the character of the thought which he expresses. Take first the beginning of any theological treatise on marriage—the question, what is marriage?—and the effect of William's disdaining of what was conventional. Matrimonium [est] viri mulierisque coniunctio maritalis, inter legitimas personas, individuam vitae consuetudinem retinens (‘Marriage is the marital union of man and woman, [a union] between lawful persons [= persons who may lawfully contract marriage], involving [their] individual association in life’).26 This is the definition a reader would find in Gratian and in the Lombard:27 and therefore in virtually every canon-legal or theological treatise on marriage written in the central or later middle ages. William's definition? Matrimonium est sancta, sanctificativa, et perfecta societas maris etfoeminae in genere humano, sivevinculum, sive necessitudo quae eos hujusmodi societatis facit invicem sui in alterutrum debitores (‘Marriage is the holy, sanctifying, and perfect society of male and female in the human species; or bond or necessity which makes them debtors to each other in this sort of society’).28 Right at the start, then, William shows his independence by ignoring the stock phrase which his readers will have expected. That will have made them alert to the implications of his unusual formulation. ‘Society’, William's favourite word for the relation, will have had less impact than the substitution of ‘male’ and ‘female’ for ‘man’ and ‘woman’ and the addition of ‘human species’. These signalled to the reader the approach of a mind which thought in terms of comparisons with mating in the animal world, and in biological and medical terms.

A high proportion of William's words and phrases is vivid or unusual. Many of the nouns are formed by suffixes from shorter words, often based on adjectives (p.66) themselves formed from nouns. If writing now and in modern English, William would look at the words ‘ruin-ruinous-ruinousness’ and pick out ‘ruinousness’ for use. Writing in medieval Latin, William stocked his personal thesaurus with words such as these: ruinositas, studiositas, contrarietas, aerumnositas, pretiositas, quaerulositas, numerositas, commensalitas, irreligiositas, rumusculi. Sharpest, perhaps, is his pressing into use an adverb and a verb from the noun which denotes a faith. He does this in order to be able to write that men live ‘Saracenically’ or ‘Jewishly’ (Saracenice, Judaice), or that they ‘Saracenicize’ or'Judaize’ (Saracenizant, Judaizant), and so that he can use ‘Judaism’ and ‘Saracenism’ (Judaismus, Saracenismus).29 These last two nouns are more inclusive than the usual words used by William's contemporaries—’faith’ (or ‘law’) ‘of the Jews’, ‘faith’ (or ‘law’) ‘of the Saracens’30—and they tend to essentialize the ensemble of peoples, faith, and cult which they denote. Should we compare one pair of contrasting styles, the plainer Latin of William's contemporaries and William's Latin, to a modern pair of contrasting styles, where one author writes plain English and another is addicted to adding ‘ific’ or ‘-isticize’ to words? The drift in the latter modern example, towards abstraction and essentializing things, may convey something of William and his mind. But the modern analogy misleads if it obscures the precision of William's use of words, and the motive of his selection—concern to press language into expressing more things.

Some of the thesaurus, and even more of the compound phrases and similitudes, arise from an original mind and its desire for pungent expression. This word-smith, who tosses off phrases like ‘bent love’ (curvus amor) and ‘parading and trying-out of females’ (praesentatio et[…] probatio foeminarum),31 has both mordancy and a certain jagged or raw quality. To illustrate the proposition that anything can be re-cleaned, he chooses as his example ‘a menstruating woman's rag’.32 The vividness of the similitudes, which William used in his sermons, was itself the theme of some contemporary exempla.33

Finally, there is perhaps a more ambitious use of language to express a theme. The images for generation and reproduction, images of fields, trees, fruit, cheese and rennet, are sometimes developed lengthily and recur. William may have been encouraged, in his use of the image of the coagulation of cheese for the generation of the human embryo or the image of women as fields for ploughing and sowing by their appearance in, respectively, Aristotle's On Animats34 and the Koran:35 but tracing sources is not all. William says something about human generation not (p.67) just through the proposition of a sentence, but also through effects of language—the mystery, richness, and potency of the words in which the proposition is clothed.36

3.2.1 William the pastor, in Paris (a): Christians other than prostitutes

William's main theme was fertility: fertility among married Christians in the west, among prostitutes in the west, and in countries in which Saracens lived. William's comments on fertility in these milieux need the setting of his own experience.

The first setting is Paris, where William lived for an unknown number of years before becoming bishop. Thereafter, for twenty-one years, he resided in an episcopal palace at the heart of one of the largest cities of Latin Christendom, exercising authority over a diocese which covered not only Paris but some of the smaller towns and villages of the fertile Île-de-France.37 The numbers of inhabitants had increased and were still increasing. Philip Augustus's new walls for Paris were going up, and there was the construction and extension of commoner as well as grander buildings. In Paris itself inhabited areas were becoming fuller, and there were more people living along particular roads. For a clergyman who was involved in administration all this was not just something to look at. It meant thinking, planning, and trying to organize new parish boundaries. In Paris there was a growth in the number of parishes, accelerating in the later twelfth century, when the enormous parish of St Germain-l'Auxerrois—which was eventually cut into eight parishes—had its first three dismemberments.38 With the Clos du Chardonnet, the history of the expansion of Paris parish boundaries, under the pressure of expanding population, reached and directly involved William. There was a growing number of people living along the road leading to Saint-Victor, parallel to the canal of La Bièvre, and from April 1230 William was active in getting a parish for the inhabitants of Chardonnet.39 Since the problem was general, William set about getting general papal permission for what he was doing. His action is known from Gregory IX's bull, given at Perugia on 18 December 1234. This granted William licence to make two parishes of one in his diocese, as he saw fit. The bull makes it clear that William had urged the excessive size of parishes when applying for the power to divide them.40

Within the diocese of Paris growing numbers, reflected in alteration to structures, whether town walls or parish boundaries, will certainly have produced the commonplace ‘populous’ in an observer's mind, and they may also have (p.68) suggested some estimating of numbers in parishes, if only in schematic and rough mental approximations. And for a cleric lifting his eyes beyond the diocese of Paris, there was something more. This was the simple concept, which was ubiquitous in classical and medieval geographical description, ‘populous’, ‘more populous’, ‘less populous’, and the possible linking of this with observation of the contrasting populousness of areas which were defined ecclesiastically. Take the case of the archdiocese of Embrun. This was a very large diocese, taking in 3750 square kilometres of south-eastern France, and much of it was mountainous. Its low level of populousness had already in the 1140s encouraged an abbot of Cluny, Peter the Venerable, to make a demographic comparison. To Peter its ‘deserted [areas] and little villages’ (desertis et villulis) contrasted with what one encountered to the west, as one entered the province of Narbonne, ‘great gatherings [of people] and populous cities’ (magnis conventibus et populosis urbibus).41 The point was made again, a century later, by the great canonist Henry of Susa (Hostiensis), writing after he had become archbishop of Embrun. He commented on Embrun's low population by comparing it with that Paris parish which we have already seen being dismembered, whose vast size made it known up to the eighteenth century as ‘la Grande Paroisse’: St Germain-l'Auxerrois. The comparison is now numerical. Henry wrote, ‘the parish church of St Germain l'Auxerrois, whose rector has the care of more than 40,000 souls, possibly has more than the archbishop of Embrun with all his suffragans.’

The sight of town walls encircling larger areas was a commonplace of western experience at this time. So was the increase of numbers of parishes, which was most dramatic on the boundaries of Christendom. For example, Génicot has noted parishes, in the diocese of Cracow, going from 174 in 1200 to 467 in 1327.42 The Paris parishes were under very tight episcopal government, and tight observation. Parish priests were ordered to appear in twice-yearly synods, to refer much to the bishop, to bring details of parishioners’ bequests to Notre-Dame and possibly much else to synods; and to reduce a lot to writing—rents and possessions, names of dying priests, names of parishioners belonging to a particular confraternity. Now, at this date we are beginning to see the ideal being upheld of pastors knowing the numbers of their flocks.43 With Henry of Susa and the estimation of numbers in St Germain we move right into the circle of people whom William of Auvergne knew and with whom he dealt—for Henry was teaching law in Paris in 1239 and was one of William's three archdeacons. Henry's estimate clearly goes back to his archidiaconal days in Paris, and it is a reasonable conjecture that some sorts of estimates of St Germain-l'Auxerrois go back—and go back as commonplaces—to the beginning of its dismemberment.

The bishop and priests of the diocese of Paris were working within a great reforming code, the synodal statutes issued by Eudes de Sully a few years before (p.69) 1215,44 and later additions, including those of Guillaume de Seignelay (1219 × 1224). Parish priests met in synods twice a year, and they were required to keep booklets containing the synodal statutes. These laid down their duties, and bore upon such themes as the contracting of marriage, problematic marriage cases, and sin and confession, including major sexual sins. This setting is glimpsed in William's marriage treatise. Behind an admonition that marriage should never be celebrated without the priest's prayer and blessing lie the elementary words of the synodal statute on the same theme, as familar as three times three.45 Behind the theme of ecclesiastical magistracy over marriage and a brief discussion of separation on the grounds of a husband's cruelty lie sessions of the diocese's marriage court.46 And behind William's sharp, wide, and miscellaneous knowledge of marriage lies not only direct pastoral experience but also the implementation of the statute that ‘A priest should always refer to him [the bishop] all doubts and problems of marriage’.

This, then, was the general framework within which a cleric in the diocese of Paris, and then its bishop, learnt about the marriages and sexual behaviour of ordinary lay men and women in the diocese: synodal meetings, marriage-courts, and confession. And it is through sources of this sort thatWilliam claims knowledge. After describing the lower potency or impotence of some men with their wives and other women, he writes, ‘We have learnt this same thing from women, not from men's rumours or [general] opinion, from experience in itself and certainty’, in statements given in confession.47

Paris also contained one extraordinary family, whose marriages were much observed and commented upon. When William became intimate with it is not clear, but the depth of familiarity which he eventually gained was underlined in contemporary stories. When those attending the queen in childbirth were (p.70) unwilling to break the news of a daughter's birth to the king, William was described as taking on the task, and playing the role of adroit courtier ready with a gentle and clever form of words to jolly along the king: ‘Today the crown of France has gained a king, for you have a daughter through whose marriage you will gain a realm.’48 Although analysis of literary commonplaces may undermine the literal truth of such stories, they convey a broader point, William's closeness to the royal family.

Let us now juxtapose these areas of William's experience with William's ‘demographic’ statements in the treatise.

The treatise's most remarkable comment on fertility compares the population of countries in which Saracens live and other countries. The ‘Saracens do not achieve the multiplication of their people, which they aim at through this [plurality of wives].’ Morally the setting and explanation for this is Saracen intentness on carnal pleasure. But William appeals to experience of these other countries to support his point. ‘In whatever realm of another people’, he wrote, ‘of the same amplitude and fertility of soil, [and] unless things are otherwise through disease, the sword or another [source of] damage [to the people], just as great a numerousness (numerositas) of indigenous peoples is to be found as in any other realm of the people of the Saracens.’ ‘Whatever’ helps to underline the argument, but the ideal of marriage in William's treatise is that of good Christians in Latin Christendom, as opposed to Jews and Saracens, and his direct experience was the realm of France, especially the Île-de-France: those he refers to in the next sentence as ‘our people’. ‘So it is clear’, he continues, ‘that the multiplication of wives and the efforts they devote to generation do not bring about the multiplication of their people at which they aim, and conjugal chastity and singleness of marriages [= monogamy] do not bring about decrease or loss to our people—the decrease they dread so much [happening] in their people.’49 Remarkable in William's claim is his hardheadedness concerning large Saracen population (which we will discuss below). Remarkable also his careful spelling out of what needs control in the kingdom which is to be compared: geographical size, agricultural fertility, and freedom from particular events which bring about population decline. This man was drawing upon the experience of an adult life which was passed in a capital city whose administrative reorganization, under population pressure, was to be (or had been) a matter of direct personal concern. He chose to ally a general demographic statement about ‘our people’ with a word which is a half-way house between a standard contemporary phrase, ‘great multitude’ (multitudo magna) and the modern demographer's word ‘density’: numerositas.

(p.71) William turns from numerositas in a realm and addresses fertility in individual families, and in families of different estates or degrees of wealth. Here he faces in two directions. Pressure to look one way comes from his concern to combat voluptas, which he does by demonstrating an inherent opposition between the pursuit of sexual pleasure and fertility. Here ordinary layfolk with whom William was acquainted are put alongside two other groups who are being used in the argument (prostitutes and Saracens), and their sexual practices paraded. There are people who deliberately avoid conception because their ‘bent love’ is directed towards a pleasure which might be diminished by offspring:

How much more fitting it was for the Creator to strengthen this hope and love, which, while they are aimed and directed only at the due end, are right, than that bent love, viz. the love of sexual pleasure! Especially since this [bent] love impedes that end and the fruit of children. [Bent love] draws the act of generation into itself, forcing it to stay there—[that act of generation] which was to be directed and exercised towards the end of fruit and offspring: so that not only is the fruit of offspring not looked for by those who are mingling [sexually], but care is taken to stop [such fruit] resulting, to avoid [such procreation] diminishing or totally doing away with sexual pleasure.50

In their pursuit of sexual pleasure they apply themselves to avoiding conception. The practice will have been known to William through confession, and perhaps was ventilated in talk at synods. Although William does not try to estimate its extent, its importance to him can perhaps be gauged by the fact that the practice is lined up for discussion alongside fertility among prostitutes and Saracens.

Pressure to look another way, however, came from William's concern to combat Saracens’ preoccupation with multiplication, and their confusion, as he saw it, between city and household. William is thereby driven towards upholding an ideal which, whatever it is precisely, will be smaller than a Saracen ideal. William, therefore, looks at moderation in the size of families. In William's discussion four things can be distinguished, (i) an ideal size of princely families, (ii) their size in reality, (iii) an ideal size of families lower down the scale, (iv) their size in reality. On (i–iii) there is some illumination, on (iv) nothing. William the courtier came to know a lot about one royal family. When he turns to an example of size he chooses a figure, twelve, which is both round and also close to the number of children Louis IX was to father—eleven.51 William was in a position to know more than most about the size of families, and his comments on poorer families are tantalizing, for they show a realist and observer: he could have discussed (iv), that (p.72) is to say numbers in reality, but does not. All we are left with is his views on their ideal size.

William first of all looks at household numbers:

It is manifest to those who carefully look at this [matter], that a man of any condition and also of any power or wealth is sufficiently burdened [ornatus = equipped; possibly mistake for oneratus=burdened] with the production and support of one house of a medium number of people, which is [a house] containing twelve children and the necessary and appropriate household [viz. servants and others]. Even a powerful and wealthy prince could hardly provide for twelve children decently and competently in a way which was appropriate to his glory and magnificence. Undoubtedly he could provide clothing and food for them as though they were servants, and [do] this without burden or difficulty—but not for them as the king's children, nor as befits royal highness.

William has begun at the highest point in rank and wealth, a king, and the number twelve. He now moves down strata of rank and money, suggesting proportion between these on the one hand and on the other hand size of family and its support. ‘And because the burdens of this sort of wealth and power are proportional to the wealthy and the powerful, it is clear that a house of this size burdens the rich of every sort, and the poor insupportably. One can hardly find a man and a woman taking twelve children through to adult age while rearing them and instructing and providing in every way.’

Having skirted this dangerous theme, William continues with words about oneness which recall the reader to what is being opposed, marriage among the Saracens. ‘And what a nest or the like of a nest is among birds is what a house is among men. On the one hand just one male and one female hatch their young in one nest. And so, [on the other hand], just one male and one female only generate in one house. And this is in itself the essential characteristic of marriage, building one house; through marriage, male and female “leave father and mother and adhere” to each other [see Genesis 2:24], in order to build another house for themselves.’52 William then doubles back to the danger area, spelling out his advocacy of reason and limit. ‘It is manifest therefore that single marriages, that is to say, between one man and one woman [monogamous marriages], require the limits (p.73) and the constrictions of means and [degrees of] affluence; and that [marriages] sufficiently weigh down the amplest of resources; and that their extension or multiplication is either insupportable or utterly unfit for human nature.’53 William finally moves away from the theme of numbers that befit levels of wealth and rank and towards the more commonplace themes of women's and men's pain and toil. These are ‘the great pain of childbirth, unhappiness of pregnant women, hard work and misery of feeding’,54 and ‘for husbands…the not light work of supporting pregnant, childbearing and breast-feeding women, and similarly looking after, feeding and educating little children’.55 In the third of the four questions which William raised and determined in the following chapter, he returned to the advocacy of moderation from the point of view of health, writing of the greater robustness and health of offspring who are generated when ‘sowing’ is less frequent.56

Outwardly, William's discussion is about Christian monogamy versus Saracen polygamy, and it is the latter's ‘extension or multiplication’ whose insupportability is being demonstrated. But within this argument there is another discussion, about the appropriate size of Christian monogamous families. At the centre are two things. One is a view of a direct relation between on the one hand means (and probably rank) and on the other hand numbers of children to be generated and provided for. The other is what is allied to this, the notion of a sliding scale. Both the wording of William's description of supporting a household and bringing up children and his notion of a sliding scale find parallels in discussions of almsgiving. The amount which one should give related to one's superfluity, and the assessment of one's superfluity related to one's station in life: men of higher rank had to maintain greater estate.57 ‘Marriages…require limits and constrictions’. William's view of ideal family size seems essentially similar. One may envisage twelve for a prince—though even this is difficult—and such size is insupportable lower down. Lower ideal figures are not spelled out, but a downward sliding scale, as with the obligation to charity, is clearly implied. It seems that a polemic against Saracens licensed a Christian theologian to raise a theologically sensitive topic: an ideal of limit and moderation. If William seems to be advocating an ideal, what of demographic reality? All we can say is that William is close to reality when talking (p.74) about high-ranking families and is acutely aware of poorer families’ problems when rearing large numbers of children. Further than this we are in the dark.

3.2.2 William the pastor, in Paris (b): prostitutes

Through the moral-literary lenses of the reforming theologians studied by John Baldwin there appear sharp vignettes of Paris around 1200. There are poor prostitutes in brothels, offering themselves to transients for a low price; half a penny or a penny are two prices discussed. There are young men losing their virginity to prostitutes. Brothels are in buildings, in which on another floor lectures take place. There is brawling in brothels, and prostitutes shout after men who had turned them down, crying out ‘Sodomites!’ And during the building of Notre-Dame, the prostitutes of Paris are offering to devote some of the money they earn to paying for a stained-glass window. Later, the fiscal and criminal records studied by Bronisław Geremek allow one to plot the precise areas and streets, as well as the different levels and sorts of prostitutes, the professionals, rich and poor, the part-timers, the pimps, the brothels, the ‘sin-shops’ (bouticles au pêchié).58

This was one concern shared by both the more and less radical wings of the ‘apostolic’ religious movements of the twelfth and early thirteenth centuries.59 In the early twelfth century one of the principal activities of Vitalis, founder of the order of Savigny, was reforming prostitutes and finding them marriages, while Robert of Arbrissel received reformed prostitutes, alongside other women, in his new foundation of Fontevrault. ‘The heresiarch Henry’ worked among prostitutes in Le Mans around 1115. He urged men to marry reformed prostitutes, who were to burn their clothes; Henry would provide each with four shillings for new clothing. Possibly connected to this project was Henry's reported opposition to the need for dowries in marriages. Then, at the end of the twelfth century, sisters of a mendicant religious Order most of which became heretical, the Waldensian Order, may have included reformed prostitutes.

(p.75) By this date we also meet what is, for a few decades, the most striking part of the prostitute-reform movement, in a succession of reformers in Paris. The practical moral theologian, Peter the Chanter, debated various themes to do with prostitutes. A later student at Paris, Jacques de Vitry, devoted part of the account of the western church which he wrote in the 1220s, his Historia Occidentalis, to Paris, the sins of usury and prostitution, and the popular preacher Fulk. His chapter 6 has this rural illiterate, Fulk, going to study in Paris. The condition of Paris ‘in those days’ is thus set up for chapter 7: like other cities it is deeply wrapped in sin, especially sexual sin, prostitution in particular. Chapter 9 has the dénouement. Fulk imbibes moral teaching from the one lily among thorns, Peter the Chanter, and begins to preach in the vernacular. Public prostitutes admit their shame and cut their hair off. ‘Virtually all public prostitutes…he in large part handed over to marriage, while others he enclosed in religious houses so that they could live under [religious] rule. The monastery of St Antoine, of the Cistercian Order and not far outside Paris,…started to receive such women’.60

The chronicler Rigord put Fulk's preaching under the year 1198. In May of the same year Innocent III produced a bull, which was to enter the standard collections of canon law,61 specifying the act of drawing women from prostitution and marrying them as something which helped in the remission of one's sins. Baldwin has attributed the sources of Innocent III's reforming ideas in general to his days of study in Paris, and the same may well apply to this bull and Innocent's ideas about reform of prostitutes. The years of Fulk's activities were conflated in Rigord's and Jacques’ accounts, with St Antoine only adopting Cistercian constitutions in 1204.

When looking at William of Auvergne's writing on prostitutes it is crucial to remember both the prostitution of the Paris in which he lived and the tradition of reform and comment on prostitutes in Paris which stretched back over at least forty years into the 1180s. Further, there was William's own contribution to reform. According to an entry of late 1225 in Aubri of Trois Fontaines’ chronicle, a Master of Theology ‘by his preaching withdrew many common women from sin’. This man was William of Auvergne. William ‘started the new house of the “Daughters of God”’ (Filiae Dei, Filles-Dieu) for these reformed prostitutes. Following the example, wrote Aubri, ‘this Order began to spread in other cities’.62 The principal historian of the movement's manifestation in Germany, André Simon, stated that it was not easy to establish the connections between the Paris house and others in France, although it was probably their model. And he set the Paris house also as the model for what was about to take place in Germany, where the houses for reformed prostitutes not only spread rapidly but acquired quickly the contours of an Order, the ‘Order of the Penitent Sisters of Blessed Mary (p.76) Magdalen’. Surviving documents from the Paris Filles-Dieu provide glimpses of William at work.63 In the first text William obtains permission, from the prior of Saint-Martin-des-Champs and the parish priest of Saint Laurent, to set up the house outside Paris—to take them near the religious of St Lazare; and far from sin? The prior and the priest had opposed the move, and they had been overcome: presumably by William. The later documents show the Filles-Dieu acquiring property during the first years of William's episcopate (up to the year 1236): bearing his name, these texts attest William's continuing intervention and support.

In his writing William often turned to prostitutes, their way of life and official treatment of them. In his De moribus he writes of their customary ornamentation,64 while in chapter 4 of the treatise on marriage one of his two examples of repressive measures by magistracy is the expulsion of pimps from cities: a reference to Cardinal Robert de Courson's measure in the legatine Council which he held in Paris in 1213.65 William appealed to observation as the ground of what he said about prostitutes, for example underwriting his assertion in De fide et legibus that ‘brawls, robberies, and murders’ are associated with prostitutes and brothels. ‘[The statements of] these things are not just based on belief or opinion: they have the certainty [which is gained] through daily experience.’66

When William wrote about prostitutes he saw himself, then, as writing from experience, and in his treatise on marriage he identified prostitution and sodomy as the two chief enemies of generation of ‘fruit’. He made two points about the way they depressed fruit. The first is a point about early extinction. ‘Not hoping for these seeds of human generation, they choke and extinguish in advance what comes forth or the foetus…and [thus] they deprive human nature of its most precious fruit [in the form of] innumerable offspring.’67 This seems to cover actions both before and after conception, avoidance and abortion. The former, implying something to do with the sexual act, is amplified by a brief reference to prostitution and sodomy ‘not only turning away from the industry of fruits [application to fruiting] but twisting the act which ought to be [an act] of generation into shame and making it completely useless for fruit’.68 The suggestion seems to be spilling of seed, whether withdrawal and emission outside in sex with prostitutes, or otherwise in sodomy—it needs to be noted that here and elsewhere in the treatise William is far more concerned with prostitution than with sodomy.

William's second point is lack of survival through the inadequate rearing which one would expect from such women. ‘Although fruit sometimes arises from the work of generation, [it is likely] in part or in whole to perish, through lack of (p.77) care. [It perishes], because there is no one to look after the child, to rear, bring up, teach and provide [it] with other necessary and wholesome things.’69 William's continuation shows that he is principally thinking of prostitutes, and not utterly without sympathy and compassion for them. ‘What woman, placed in such misery and want, would provide [properly], since she does not know from whom she will have got the child? Given that she will have been prostituted all over the place and indiscriminately to all lusting men, what man, impregnating her, would have taken on [the job of support], the starting-point of great misery and deprivation?’70

The low fertility of prostitutes was a theme in learned writing before William, beginning with two early twelfth-century works by William of Conches.71 In one, a dialogue begins thus—‘Since prostitute women have sex most frequently, how is it that they rarely conceive?’—and the following discussion centres on changes to the womb, through frequent sex, which make it reject seed.72 In the late 1220s and in Paris William is likely to have known of this. It is probably in this tradition, and certainly with the mantle of the man learned in natural philosophy and medicine, that William turned again to the theme in another section of the marriage treatise, when dealing with the opposition between the pursuit of sexual pleasure and fertility. ‘Further’, he wrote, ‘through its increase and vehemence the pursuit of sexual pleasure impedes the fruit of generation. For those who burn mostly with this sort of concupiscence are of little generation and little or no fruit, and they are quickly rendered sterile and inept for generation. [This happens] either for this reason, that the seed of generation is consumed in the heat of such ardour. Or [it happens] because the frequency of such [sexual] mingling stops seed of this sort coalescing into life. This occurs in prostitute women, who rarely or never conceive: either they are exhausted through excessive ardour, or the excessive (p.78) frequency of [their] shamefulness prevents the seed in them having life or coalescing.’73 After William the tradition continued. William of Conches's works survived, and his statements were to be excerpted and copied into Vincent of Beauvais's encyclopaedic Speculum doctrinale in the 1240s, under the rubric, ‘Why prostitutes rarely conceive’. In his On animals Albert the Great commented on ‘excessive use of sex, as for example in prostitutes, on account of which they only rarely conceive’.74 Giles of Rome observed, in his De regimine principum, that ‘we see that prostitutes are more sterile [sic] than other women’,75 the reason being that union with many men impedes fertility. An unprinted arts faculty quodlibet from Paris around 1300 ventilates the question ‘Whether a prostitute can conceive’,76 as does also a collection of medical and natural-philosophical problems known as Omnes homines, which is probably from the same period.77 Thus natural-philosophical discussion of prostitutes’ low fertility continued to c.1300, much of it being aired by men who wrote and lectured close to the streets where these women worked.

When William links the rarity of conception among prostitutes with exhaustion and seed not ‘coalescing’, he is writing within this natural-philosophical tradition. But when he turns to prostitutes’ use of forms of sex opposed to conception and abortion, and their poor rearing of children, he is drawing upon what he knew as a pastor deeply concerned with the reform of the prostitutes of Paris.

3.3.1 William and Saracen population (a): earlier thought

If William's comments on Saracen population need a specific context, contemporary reflection on the Saracen problem, this reflection in itself can only be understood within a wider and longer story which goes back to around 1100 and the aftermath of the First Crusade. Fighting, colonization, and defence of the settlements in the eastern Mediterranean had all had a large impact, providing one deeply coloured and detailed sector of a word-view of population and a large topic to worry about: Saracen numbers. In order to describe this we must digress, (p.79) leaving the early thirteenth century and William's Paris, and going backwards and onto a larger map. The theme anticipates the treatment of the west's view of world population in Chapter 9 below.

Among modern historians of the First Crusade, the capture of Jerusalem, and the setting up of Latin kingdoms, Joshua Prawer in particular has emphasized how the settlement which followed this and defence were conditioned by fundamental facts of numbers. A charter for a colony of western men, many from southern France—Lambert the cobbler, Stephen the carpenter, Pons the cameler—provided for their settlement ‘so that the land should be better populated’ (ut terra melius populetur)78 But settlement in the countryside was thin, a very high proportion was in fortified towns, and the settlers were always a minority in relation to the indigenous populations. In defence a perennial problem, which was diminished whenever a crusade was assisting, was the lack of numbers.79 It has been estimated that at other times the Franks could not usually muster more than two thousand mounted soldiers, while the total resources of the Aiyubid empire of Saladin's brother and nephews were about twenty-two thousand men, of whom ten to twelve thousand were cavalry.80 Ellenblum has recently attacked part of this view, using archaeological as well as documentary evidence to suggest denser rural settlement by the Franks.81

Turning from modern historians, we also find fundamental facts about numbers stressed in the twelfth-century texts, the histories of the first great triumph which spread so widely in the west (especially Fulcher of Chartres's), and the letters from a patriarch of Jerusalem or a master of a military order ‘on the state of things’ which crowd western monastic chronicles. ‘We, a few people in the lands of our enemies’:82 Fulcher's words become a commonplace, which applies first of all to battles, in which small numbers of Franks fight a much larger number of Turks, often ‘a vast multitude’ or ‘an infinite multitude’. A minor exception to small versus large is pride in the size of the initial Frankish forces. The commonplace was also applied to settlement in defence, of which Fulcher provided a remarkable survey.83 Some Franks remained, but some went back. Jerusalem was depopulated; there were not enough men to defend it if the Saracens attacked, and this could so easily happen. Could they not gather from Egypt at least a 100 times 100,000 fighters? The Franks were living among so many thousands and thousands of enemies.

While the picture of small numbers of valiant Franks was becoming common currency, there was a general growth of knowledge of Mahomet's faith and law (p.80) and the geography of the Saracens. Although earlier western Christian ignorance of Mahomet and the Saracens has been overstated, it is clear that clerics became better informed during the twelfth century.84 The milestones in this development were a chapter in the Dialogi of Petrus Alfonsi (1108 or 1110), and the massive effort of comprehension by Peter the Venerable in the 1140s, which brought about the translation into Latin of the Koran and several other works, including the important Risālat of Al-Kindi. The first significant element in this developing picture had come very early. It was simple and fundamental: the view of the Saracens as occupying a very large proportion of the world. This view was already being put across—and put across emphatically—in the early twelfth century, and as remotely as in the west of England. It may have been based in part on the reports of men returning from pilgrimages and armed expeditions to the Holy Land, whose distant journeys had deeply impressed them with the size of the world which lay beyond Latin Christendom and how much of it lay under Saracen rule. Or such reports may have reinforced an earlier but no longer documented view.

As a result, views of the proportions of the world and its inhabitants tilted, Christians and Christendom shrinking in numbers and size as Saracens and Saracenitas expanded. This is very clear in the west-countryman William of Malmesbury. Writing between 1118 and 1123, he put into the mouth of Urban II, when calling for an armed expedition at Clermont in 1095, a geography of the populations of the two faiths. It took the form of the classic geographical division of the world into three parts. ‘They inhabit as their hereditary nest a third part of the world, Asia, which was not incorrectly estimated by our ancestors as equalling the remaining two parts—by virtue of the length of its tracts [of land] and the width of its provinces…There, once upon a time, branches of our faith flourished…They hold another part of the world, Africa…There remains the third climate [part] of the world, Europe—how big a part of this do we Christians inhabit?’85 Writing elsewhere, in 1127, William was willing to concede a possible polemical point, Mahomet's capacity to work miracles, because this could explain how his faith had conquered so many peoples.86 In the 1140s Peter the Venerable set generalizations, given in fractions, against the tripartite division of the world. Mahomet's ‘very large people’ (gens maxima) are now ‘almost a third part of the human race’, and, at the end of the same tract, ‘are now thought to be almost half the world’.87 Was Peter being consistent, thinking of a third (in numbers of (p.81) people) inhabiting a half of the (geographical) world? Or being general, vague—and inconsistent?

This broad population-geography of the two faiths came to unite with the commonplace about disparity of numbers in particular battles. Crusading propaganda in 1185 envisaged Saracen thought in this way: ‘Let us silence the name of Christ on earth, and take away [his] place and people. Come, and let us in [all] our great multitude disperse the smallness of the Christian people.’88 Several English chronicles contain the texts of a purported exchange of letters between the emperor Frederick Barbarossa and Saladin in which boasts of size and number are exchanged. To the Christian emperor's ‘do you not know how many have been subject to us?’ Saladin hurls back sarcasm and more. Counting is the issue—‘if you compute…and name…if we wanted to enumerate’ (si computatis…et nominatissi nos vellemus dinumerare). Our numbers ‘could not be reduced here to writing’. ‘If you count the names of the Christians, those of the Saracens are more and more abundant than those of the Christians.’ The point is brutally and simply numbers and geography, underlining the elementary military fact. ‘And if there is the sea between you and those whom you name as Christians, there is no sea or any barrier between the Saracens—who cannot be estimated [= counted]—and coming to us. And with us there are the Bedouins, who would be enough, if we set them on our enemies; and we have the Turcomans…’ And so the text goes on, rubbing in the advantage of Saladin's resources over Christian forces.89

The theologians were not cut off. Some visited the Holy Land, and they lived alongside and were often close relations of men whose long experience lay in raising and recruiting armies, fighting in Spain or out in the Holy Land, and there facing opposing armies whose comparative strength was a fundamental and commonplace matter of interest. At a certain stage concern with number began to impinge on theologians’ treatment of Mahomet's law.

In western views of marriage in Mahomet's law, a role had been played by serious knowledge: the plurality of women who were allowed in lawful marriage and the further unspecified number of slave-women, and tahlil (divorce). Roles had also been played by the notion of Mahomet's own possession of fifteen wives and two slave-girls, and the promise of beautiful and untouched women to enjoy in paradise, which provided the raw materials for fantasy and the attribution to Mahomet and to the Saracens of sensuality and sexual licentiousness. This had became the root of one early explanation of Mahomet's appeal to so many men, and the rapid spread of his followers. Crude promises of ‘infinite sex’ (infiniti (p.82) concubitus), in the words of the Risālat of Al-Kindi,90 drew in droves of ‘men [at the level of the] herd’ (pecorini homines), and thus the early battles were won. We need to put aside the fantasy, and keep in mind the important progression of thoughts which had thus been set in place, in a sequence which was especially clear in the Risālat.91 This sequence was, first, from a particular point in Mahomet's law to appeal to very large numbers; and, secondly, from very large numbers to military success and dominion.

The theme of polygamy had had a longer and more serious history. The law had already been spelled out clearly and quite precisely by Petrus Alfonsi,92 and Peter the Venerable's enterprise had then made available to western readers its basis in the Koran, and its more polemical expression in the Risālat.93 Quite apart from the possibilities of observation in Spain and Latin kingdoms in the east, there came to be opportunities to see and hear in north-western Europe, as is clear from Peter the Chanter's reminiscence about one Saracen who had been taken prisoner in the Holy Land and then brought back to Beauvais. There in the Beauvaisis (which was Peter's home) the Saracen was baptised, and married—but later he confessed that he had left behind in Parthia five living wives! Elsewhere Peter the Chanter was probably envisaging the case of a Saracen, while covering possibilities in other faiths, when asking questions about a ‘pagan’, who has several wives and wishes to convert. Which is his wife? Answer: the one he married first. And if he married them at the same time, which is his wife? Answer: the one he ‘knew’ first. Thus the practical problem of what happened after conversion was bringing about discussion of plurality of wives in the theological schools of late twelfth-century Paris.

Among the theologians, two very familiar but separate areas began to be linked in the late twelfth century. This is evident in Alain de Lille's treatment of Saracens’ marriage in his De fide catholica, composed in the fifteen years, or so, before his death in 1202. Alain wrote that ‘they assert that it is licit to have several wives at the same time’. Alain does not spell out precise numbers,94 probably because he can assume his readers’ familiarity, by now, with the plurality allowed in the Koran. The words of his own formulation, however, recalled a different but theologically very familiar tradition. They are the words with which Peter the Lombard and many others, in a tradition which goes back to Augustine, had stated the (p.83) problem of the plurality of wives among the patriarchs of the Old Testament: how could this have been licit? The Lombard's answer to this was the standard one. Then it was licit to have several wives in order to bring about the [more rapid] multiplication of God's people. Now, this had been standard only in discussion of Old Testament, patriarchal, plurality of wives, not so far in speculation about the followers of Mahomet. The convergence of the two strands, evidenced by Alain's use of the language of plurality among the patriarchs when writing about the followers of Mahomet, shows how a new thought was becoming possible (or probable) among the theologians.

3.3.2 William and Saracen population (b): the early thirteenth century

We now turn to look at the direction such thought was taking around the time of William's composition of his marriage treatise,95 beginning with Jacques de Vitry. Jacques united Paris theology with eastern experience: a student in Paris, where he was a master by 1193, Jacques was elected to the bishopric of Acre in 1216. In the Holy Land he was active, preaching, participating in the deliberations of the council of war at Acre in 1217, urging the utility of attacking Egypt in a letter of 1218, and witnessing the siege of Damietta.

In his Historia orientalis, probably written during 1220,96 Jacques gives a conventional view of the small numbers of the first generation of Franks, compared to the surrounding ‘multitude of Saracens’, as well as the small number, the ‘few’ who faced Saladin's numbers.97 The key elements of western accounts of early success (small numbers plus God's will) and later failure in 1187 (small numbers without God's will) have a third element spelled out by Jacques: the Saracens, through many engagements with the Franks, had lost their earlier technical inferiority in fighting. Thus, in the directly military part of Jacques’ account, the removal of the two elements of God's help and technical military superiority leaves the theme of numbers on its own, bare.

Jacques follows the general emphasis on size in his account of Mahomet, who spread ‘in such a great multitude of peoples’. Why did God allow him to take away ‘so many thousands of souls’?98 Followings the Risālat (directly or indirectly?) on the appeal to many of the permission to indulge lust, he emphasizes the proneness to lust of those who live in warm regions,99 and underlining the effect of this on number. Those ‘ensnared by carnal lures were multiplied beyond number’. But then, after providing a brief and conventional account of the permission of three (p.84) or four free women as wives and a further number of concubines and slaves, he proceeds to two points which are new. One is a particular Saracen emphasis on high fertility, regarded as a matter of duty or devotion. ‘Among them [the Saracens], the more [women] a man can impregnate the more religious he is regarded’ (Magis autem religiosus iudicatur inter eos quiplurespotest impraegnare); religious could be paraphrased as devoutly dutiful. The other is his spelling out of the connection between Saracen emphasis on fertility and the military need for many people. ‘Regarding the use of sex and lust as meritorious, they mingle with their wives and concubines [even] more frequently during a fast, either to satiate their lust, or so that they can generate more children for the defence of their law [my emphasis]’ (quoniam usum veneris et luxuriam meritorium reputant, frequentius in tempore ieiunii concubinis et uxoribus commiscentur, vel causa libidinis explendae, vel ut plures filios ad legis suae defensionem valeant generare).100

Next to be examined is one of two texts which Matthew Paris inserted into the chronicle he wrote at St Albans between 1235 and 1259, under the year 1236. It was a ‘certain writing’ (quoddam scriptum), which had been sent to Pope Gregory IX (1227–41) by praedicatores who had been travelling in the Holy Land. It is not clear whether praedicatores meant Dominicans (who were called Preachers) or non-Dominican preachers. The scriptum, which has overlaps with both the Risālatand Jacques, is notable for its formal division and layout—it has a section headed ‘On marriage among the Saracens’—which recall the development in the description of marriage-systems which was discussed in Chapter 2 above. The scriptum is then followed immediately by another text which derives from an anonymous man, one whose life and actions, as they are given by Matthew Paris, resemble those of Jacques de Vitry. He was a ‘famous preacher’ (celebris praedicator), who was sent to those parts to preach against Mahomet's law. This text opens with fertility, which is presented as the principal point of Mahomet's teaching. Mahomet, in the Koran, taught that God's first and principal command was to increase and multiply. Therefore, to bring about the multiplication of the Saracen people, Mahomet ordered the Saracens to have as many wives and concubines as they could support. ‘In this way, then, in multiplying wives Mahomet instituted polygamy.’ And he did this ‘only so that by propagating he could increase his race and people, and thus strengthen his law by number’.

In this way, then, the old and commonplace emphasis on the very large numbers of the Saracens had been set in relation to polygamy, given as the explanation of Saracen multiplication. During the 1220s and 1230s procreating large numbers was coming to be depicted as the first duty enjoined in the Koran, directed towards the increase of Saracen ‘law’ and its military defence.

If this was the general climate of thought, what was the situation in the eastern Mediterranean when William was writing, and how would he have known about it? There is no evidence that William himself ever travelled to the eastern Mediterranean, or to southern Spain, but there were other people who both did so and (p.85) probably talked to William. During the years leading up to the conjectured date of the marriage treatise, 1228, a long shadow was cast by the events of 1217–21. The key to retaking Jerusalem had been identified as Egypt, with its rich resources, and the key to conquering Egypt as Damietta, which was taken after a long siege, on 19 November 1219. Throughout the affair manpower had been a crucial issue, and in 1221 huge Muslim reinforcements and the trapping of the army in the summer at Mansurah led to capitulation and the handing back of Damietta. A large number of French ecclesiastics had been out there. Arrivals at Damietta in August 1218 had included the bishop of Laon and the bishop-elect of Beauvais, Milo. Taken prisoner on 19 August 1219 and not released until 1222, Milo apparently became an expert on the military situation. He (and also the bishop of Laon) participated in a council in Paris in 1223, when he could have talked to William, and in November 1224 the two men, Milo and William, were directed to be together in a commission of enquiry. A decade later, in 1233–4, several texts bring together William of Auvergne and Peter des Roches as negotiators between the French and English kings.101 Now, Peter des Roches spent three years in the Holy Land, on his return spreading texts and knowledge—for example, a copy of William of Tyre's account of events in the Holy Land came through him to the abbey of St Albans.102 While we cannot establish that Milo and William talked about the Holy Land in 1224, or that William and Peter in fact met, both are examples of William's likely sources of information and ideas.

William was in any case living in one of the best centres of news and information in Latin Christendom, Paris, and it is important also to remember what he clearly was eventually, a regular at the royal court and participator in discussions of high matters of policy. Matthew Paris described William haranguing the French king, exhorting him not to go on crusade, and put into William's mouth a summary of the general political situation which ranges over two western monarchs, two areas in France, Germany and Italy as a whole, and the problem of access to the Holy Land.103 Even if Matthew Paris invented this, his historiographer's concern with verisimilitude (literally) will have made it near the truth. Elsewhere we see the pope advising queen Blanche to consult William of Auvergne about the Latin Kingdom of Constantinople, and a letter about the Mongols in Bohemia and Hungary, which was sent to the count of Lorraine, being sent on to William, with whom it becomes the source of a general conversation between Blanche and Louis about the Mongol threat to the world.104 All show William, at least later in his life, as an expert and adviser to the French king, who took a world-view of affairs, especially to the east.

(p.86) With the Saracens, William's first interests was their numbers. William in any case liked numbers: large numbers, ‘a thousand thousands’, a sequence, ‘many, a thousand thousands, infinity’,105 and numbers expressing proportions. He likes to use these morally, as in ‘ninety-nine out of one hundred’ persons are on their way (morally) to death.106 Characteristic, therefore, is his explanation why the belief, which he wishes to combat, ‘that each person is saved in their own faith or sect’, is so widespread. It is because people are bothered by numbers. Believing that people outside your faith or sect are damned consigns such an extraordinary proportion of all people to hell, compared to the tiny number of people who will be saved. And William goes on, characteristically, to spell it out: how could hell contain the total remaining multitude of men, evil Christians, Jews, Saracens, pagans, and others?107 William, further, showed a propensity for one set of magnitudes, even though he did not apply figures to them: generation, death balancing generation, and population. Writing about paradise according to the law of Mahomet, he poured sarcasm on the suggestion that it would contain so much ‘use of women’. With such generation and no death to balance it, population would grow to infinity: which would be impossible within the bounds of paradise.108

William addressed Saracens’ concern with large numbers in this world, partly at the level of the individual household. They try to shoe-horn a city [large numbers] into a house [a small number]. ‘The Saracens, however, aim at building not houses but individual cities, [they aim thus] at enclosing cities within the narrow confines of individual houses. In their wretched blindness they conflate city and house, since they do not try to build a house before a city but rather, as we have said, a city within a house. For every city is in fact a multitude of houses.’109 Avicenna's juxtaposition of ‘city’ and ‘marriage’, without intervening words for ‘house’ or ‘household’ may have inspired this passage.

William's central comparative ‘demographic’ statements were quoted earlier as part of an enquiry into his observation of western Christian conditions. Here they are repeated in order to see their relation with earlier and contemporary western observation of Muslim population. In his De fide et legïbus, William quoted Avicenna, citing the Philosophia prima, on the role of ‘bodily pleasures in our law’, and in the marriage treatise he addressed the followers of Mahomet, who are dedicated to sexual pleasure.110 They aim at achieving higher levels of population, and fail in this aim. William writes thus, in a passage much of which we have already quoted:

(p.87) There is a manifest indication of this [pursuit of sexual pleasure impeding generation]. [This is] the multiplication of concubines, whom they [the Saracens] call by a false name ‘wives’…the Saracens do not achieve the multiplication of their people, which they aim at through this [plurality of wives]. In whatever realm of another people of the same amplitude and fertility of soil, [and] unless things are otherwise through disease, the sword or another [source of] damage [to the people] just as great a numerousness of indigenous peoples is to be found as in any other realm of the people of the Saracens. So it is clear that the multiplication of wives and the efforts they devote to generation do not bring about the multiplication of their people at which they aim, and conjugal chastity and singleness of marriages [= monogamy] do not bring about decrease or loss to our people—the decrease they dread so much [happening] in their people.

The substratum of William's thought is not spelled out. Let us recapitulate. William was fully aware of Christian concern with the vast ‘multitude of Saracens’. He had a long and in part apocalyptic view of this, which he presented in his De fide et legibus in terms of the Pseudo-Methodius's prophecy, first of the strength of their multiplication in the time of Charlemagne, and lastly of their resurgence at the end of the world ‘in a vast multitude’. And in recent history and commentary on current events he will have known as a commonplace what is so emphasized by Jacques de Vitry, the counterposing in military engagements in the Holy Land of small numbers of Christians and large multitudes of Saracens. The particular insistence upon multiplication, and this for military reasons, which is variously expressed by Jacques de Vitry and in the scriptum cited by Matthew Paris, represents a line of thought William was clearly aware of, though not necessarily in these particular texts. And it is this line of thought against which he is, deliberately, setting himself. Now, however independent-minded William was, he is unlikely to have rejected expert military assessment of the populations from which Saracens drew their military manpower.

What, then, was William thinking? The explanation is simple, provided we do three things. We should remember that William's knowledge and interest in the world-wide history and distribution of faiths gave him a better world-view of population than most people had; impute to him a simple distinction (reminiscent of Peter the Venerable's fractions) between numbers and area; and take his words literally. First, William was not denying that the world contained a vast multitude of Saracens. He would have referred an enquirer about that fact to the geography of the world, and those parts of it over which the Saracens held dominion. What he was pointing out, secondly, was that this was a matter of space, conquest, and vast tracts of land, not a matter of higher fertility. Despite the greater overall multitude of Saracens in the world, in any given area of land, and given certain conditions, there is not a higher numerositas of the polygamous Saracens than in a similar area which is inhabited by monogamous Christians. Where others were not pausing to think, William was, and his characteristic contrariety and originality were displayed in the penetrating and fundamental distinction which his observation and reflection produced.

William went further, thinking out the fundamental implications of a law (p.88) which permitted plurality of wives and the notion of more rapid increase, through this, of a people. In what conditions of population could this work? In part of the marriage treatise111 William followed the conventional theme of the plurality of wives of the patriarchs in the Old Testament: to amplify God's people. However, William fretted. He introduced an unusual alternative explanation, which was partly rooted in the polemicist's opprobrium (Jewish lust), and partly in ‘demographic scepticism’. He conceded the possibility, but only reluctantly: ‘there could have been at some time a greater multitude of women among the people of God than men’. However, elsewhere in the marriage treatise,112 when he dealt with plurality of wives according to the law of Mahomet, there were no reins upon him, and he mounted three powerful arguments against it. Two were arguments of equity, parity for women, and equity among different men. But the most powerful argument was that ‘there was not such a disparity in nature’ between the numbers of men and women. In this he prevaricated, between ‘no disparity’ and ‘not such a great disparity’. Here he was writing at the very beginning of western grasp of the concept of a ratio between the sexes, and his views will be more fully explored in the next chapter, which is devoted to the birth and development of the concept of sex-ratio.


(1) The starting-point is still N. Valois, Guillaume d'Auvergne évêque de Paris (1228–1249): Sa vie et ses ouvrages (Paris, 1880). Access to modern work is provided through P. Viard, ‘Guillaume d’Auvergne’, DSp vi (1967), cols. 1182–92, and DHGE xxii (1988), col. 848. Useful characterization of William appears in B. Smalley, ‘William of Auvergne, John of La Rochelle and St Thomas Aquinas on the Old Law’, repr. in her Studies in Medieval Thought and Learning from Abelard to Wyclif (London, 1981), pp. 121–81 (pp. 137–56), and in L. Smith's ‘William of Auvergne and the Jews’, Christianity and Judaism, ed. D. Wood, SCH 29 (1992), pp. 107–17, and ‘William of Auvergne and confession’, in Handling Sin, pp. 95–107. Lesley Smith is preparing a general study of William.

(2) I have used the text in the 1674 edition of William's Opera omnia, which I have compared with two manuscripts, BN, MS Lat. 14842, fols. 173rb–201va (once owned by the abbey of St Victor) and Vatican, MS Vat. Lat. 849, fols. 55va–64rb (described in Codices Vaticani Latini, vol. 1 (Vatican, 1902–), II, 219–20). Variations between the printed text and the Paris manuscript are noted, but not the readings of the Vatican manuscript, which is late (1434) and interesting mainly for showing how unintelligible William's text could be made. Manuscripts of the treatise De sacramentis, of which De matrimonio forms a part, are listed in Smith, ‘William of Auvergne and Confession’, p. 98 n. 8.

(3) Smith, ‘William of Auvergne and Confession’, p. 98 and n. 6.

(4) Ch. 1 defines marriage. Ch. 2 addresses the necessity of marriage for fertility, whose enemies are sodomy and prostitution (there is much more emphasis on the second). Ch. 3 attacks unions outside marriage, union for voluptas, and Muslim polygamy. Ch. 4 is devoted to the necessity of laws about contracting marriage, and Ch. 5 summarizes what has been said so far. Ch. 6 deals with marriage's holiness and perfection as society, while chs. 8–9 attack carnal pleasure, Ch. 8 pointing out that its pursuit impedes generation. Ch. 9 raises four questions about marriage, its sacramental virtue, virginity and continence, access to wives during pregnancy and childbirth, and Old Testament polygamy; and Ch. 10 concludes with divorce and repudiation.

(5) On this date, see below Ch. 4, p. 97 n. 35.

(6) De matrimonio, VI; p. 519b. They are rooted in Peter the Lombard, Sententiae, IV. xxx. 3. 2–3 and IV. xxxi. 7; ii. 44 and 448–51.

(7) De matrimonio, X; pp. 527b–8b.

(8) I am taking into account evidence of reading displayed by William in his De fide et legibus as well as the treatise on marriage. The Arab authors read and cited by William are listed in Valois, Guillaume d'Auvergne, pp. 205–6, and R. de Vaux, Notes et textes sur l'Avicennisme latin aux confins des XIIe et XIIIe siècles, Bibliothèque Thomiste 20 (Paris, 1934), pp. 19–22 (Ch. 2 is devoted to William, Avicenna and western ‘Avicennism’). See further M.-T. d’Alverny's discussion, ‘La connaissance de l’Islam au temps de saint Louis’, in Septième centenaire de la mort de saint Louis (Paris, 1976), pp. 235–46 (pp. 241–3).

(9) De legibus, XVIII; Opera omnia, i. 49b and 50a–b. On Pseudo-Methodius, see B. Z. Kedar, Crusade and Mission: European Approaches toward the Muslims (Princeton, 1984), p. 29 and n. 68. On the Risālat, see n. 89 below.

(10) De legibus, XIX; Opera omnia, i. 54a; Valois, Guillaume d'Auvergne, p. 205 and n. 6.

(11) De legibus, XVIII; Opera omnia, i. 50b.

(12) In his account of Mahomet, in De legibus, XVIII (Opera omnia, i. 50a), where he precedes the birth of Mahomet with a prophecy of his rise, he carefully attributes this to [the pseudo-] Methodius. He then distinguishes Mahomet from another one, ‘Mahomet the Philosopher’, pedantically footnoting the latter as the author of a work which was translated by Plato of Tivoli. He notes discrepant views. ‘It is believed by some’ that he was a disciple of Sergius, William writes, before giving a reference in the work by the Pseudo-Methodius and then continuing, ‘however others say that…’ He cites various sources and, while not quite providing a list for further reading, he was tending in this direction, when referring to the ‘others’ who had written more about Mahomet.

(13) De legibus, I; Opera omnia, i. 22a–b. The treatise on marriage attacks Saracens for their dedication to voluptas.

(14) De matrimonio, VIII; p. 524b. Other western authors on the theme are assembled in N. Daniel, Islam and the West: The Making of an Image, 2nd edn. (Oxford, 1993), pp. 164–9.

(15) De matrimonio, III; p. 516a.

(16) De legibus, XVIII and XX; Opera omnia, i. 50b and 54b. In the second of these passages he also noted that prohibition and the multitude of wives had not exterminated sodomy among them.

(17) Avicenna, Liber de philosophia prima sive scientia divina, X. iv, ed. S. Van Riet, Avicenna Latinus, 3 vols. (Louvain and Leiden, 1977–83), ii. 542–8. The heading of the section is Capitulum de ligatione civitatis et de ligatione domus scilicet de coitu et de constitutionibus generalibus in hoc (‘Chapter on the binding together of the city and the binding together of the household, that is to say, on sex and general laws on this matter’). For the translation of the work into Latin, after 1150, and the twenty-five extant mss., see ibid., i. 124*–125*.

(18) F. E. Peters, Aristotle and the Arabs: The Aristotelian Tradition in Islam (New York and London, 1968), p. 61.

(19) De matrimonio, IV; pp. 516b–18a.

(20) Ibid., II; pp. 513a–14a.

(21) Ibid., II and IX; pp. 513a and 524a.

(22) Ibid., X; p. 528a.

(23) See his reference to the Philosophia prima on the Koran's permission of gaudia corporum (‘bodily pleasures’), De legibus, XIX; i. 54a.

(24) E. Gilson's characterization, in his History of Christian Philosophy in the Middle Ages (London, 1955), p. 251: ‘the patristic style of continuous exposition’.

(25) This example from Opera omnia, p. 3. Many examples are given by E. Gilson, ‘Avicenne en Occident au moyen âge’, AHDLMA 36 (1970), 89–121 (pp. 92–3), who suggests Avicenna's influence. There was earlier comment on William's style in Valois, Guillaume d'Auvergne, Ch. 3.

(26) I have adapted the translation in Hugh of Saint Victor, On the Sacraments of the Christian Faith (De sacramentis) (Cambridge, Mass., 1951), trans. R. J. Deferrari, p. 327. See the alternative in J. B. Moyle's translation of the Institutes of Justinian I. ix, 5th edn. (Oxford, 1913), p. 12.

(27) See J. Gaudemet, ‘La définition romano-canonique du mariage’, no. XIV in his Église et société au moyen âge (London, 1984).

(28) De matrimonio, I; pp. 512b–13a.

(29) De matrimonio, VI; p. 519b.

(30) P. Biller, ‘Words and the Medieval Notion of “Religion”’, JEH 36 (1985), 351–69 (pp. 362–3 and 366).

(31) De matrimonio, VIII and X; pp. 524a and 528a.

(32) De legibus, XXVIII; Opera omnia, i. 97b.

(33) Stephen of Bourbon, Tractatus, IV. xi; no. 444, p. 383. On William's lively preaching style, see A. Lecoy de la Marche, La chaire française au moyen âge, 2nd edn. (Paris, 1886), p. 64.

(34) Aristotle, De animalibus (Scot), XVI; p. 83 [739b21–5]. See J. Needham, A History of Embryology, 2nd edn. (Cambridge, 1959), pp. 50, 64 (on the image in Job 10:10), 76, 84–5, and 87.

(35) On other western authors’ preoccupation with this metaphor in the Koran, see Daniel, Islam and the West, p. 351.

(36) De matrimonio, I; p. 513a.

(37) The fundamental physical description of Paris in this period and account of the evidence usable on this theme is Baldwin's Peter the Chanter, i. 63–72 and ii. 46–50.

(38) A. Friedmann, Paris, ses rues, ses paroisses du moyen âge à la révolution (Paris, 1959), pp. 71–3, 91–8, and 277–8.

(39) Friedmann, Paris, pp. 238–9.

(40) Valois, Guillaume d'Auvergne, pp. 41 and 369, no. 55; Friedmann, Paris, pp. 415–16.

(41) Peter the Venerable, Contra Petrobrusianos liber, VI, ed. J. Fearns, CCCM 10 (1968), p. 10.

(42) L. Génicot, Le XIIIe siècle Européen, Nouvelle Clio 18 (Paris, 1968), p. 91.

(43) This is discussed in Ch. 4 below.

(44) Les statuts de Paris et le synodal de l'ouest (XIIIe siècle), ed. O. Pontal, in Les statuts synodaux français du XIIIe siècle (Paris, 1971–), i. p. lxviii.

(45) ‘Priests should frequently forbid lay people from exchanging consent except in front of a priest and in a public place, that is, in front of the doors of the Church and in the presence of many people.…Those who hold this in contempt and decline it, except through fear or other good cause, should not be regarded as married people but fornicators. And their children should not be regarded as legitimate’, De matrimonio, VI; p. 520a. We do not find adjudications of illegitimacy, for this reason, in the records of marriage-courts. The presence of the threat suggests that William may have shared something of the extremism in reform of his friend and contemporary bishop of Lincoln, Grosseteste. See R. W. Southern, Robert Grosseteste: The Growth of an English Mind in Medieval Europe, 2nd edn. (Oxford, 1992), pp. 9–10 and 260–1.

(46) The first substantial survival of court records from the diocese of Paris is much later—the six hundred cases of a register covering 1384–7; J.-P. Lévy, ‘L’officialité de Paris et les questions familiales à la fin du XIVe siècle’, in Études d'histoire du droit canonique dédiées à Gabriel Le Bras, 2 vols. (Paris, 1965), ii. 1265–94. In these later cases the suits for separation ‘from bed and board’ mainly involved the adultery of either party and the husband's cruelty. It is to these two categories that William refers in his treatise. For example, his treatment of the married as ‘companions’ leads him briefly to consider the opposite case. Where a husband is oppressive a wife may not go off to other vows (meaning another marriage or entry into a religious order), ‘but if she is weak and cannot bear her husband's molestations’, she may leave him for a while, with the Church's counsel and authority and wait for and prudently try to bring about his reform; De matrimonio, VI; p. 520b.

(47) De matrimonio, IX; p. 525a.

(48) Stephen of Bourbon, Tractatus, p. 388 n. 1.

(49) De matrimonio, VIII; p. 524a: multiplicationem gentis sue, quam per hoc intendunt sarraceni, non assequantur [MS: assecuntur]: in quocunque enim regno alterius gentis ejusdem amplitudinis et fertilitas terre, invenitur tanta numerositas populorum indigenarum quanta in quocunque regno gentis sarracenorum, nisi forte peste, aut gladio aut alio incommodo secus contingat. Quare manifestum est, quod multiplicatio uxorum et opera quam dant generationi non efficiunt [MS adds: eis] gentis sue multiplicationem, quam intendunt, neque [MS adds: nobis] castitas conjugalis et singularitas matrimoniorum diminutionem aut detrimentum parit gentis nostrae, quam diminutionem in sua gente tantopere formidant [MS: reformidant].

(50) De matrimonio, VIII; p. 524a: Quanto autem magis decuit creatorem hanc spem et amorem augere, qui recti sunt, dum in finem debitum solummodo intendunt et respiciunt, quam istum curvum amorem, scilicet voluptatis [MS adds: adicere maxime]? Maxime cum iste amor istum finem et fructus prolis impediat [MS: fructusimpediat/fructum plerumque impediat], et opus generationis, quod in finem fructus et prolis dirigendum et exercendum erat, ad se rapiat et in se stare cogat: ita ut non solum fructus prolis non curetur a comiscentibus, sed ut etiam non proveniat procuretur, ne voluptatem ipsam aut minuat aut ex toto etiam tollat.

(51) The reader is reminded about the (conjectural) date of the treatise on marriage, 1228, earlier than the completion of Louis IX's family. See below Ch. 8 n. 55.

(52) De matrimonio, VIII; p. 524a: Diligenter autem attendentibus [MS: intendentibus] in hoc manifestum [MS adds: est] satis ornatum esse virum, cujuscumque conditionis et etiam quantecunque potentiae aut opulentie, sit provisione et exhibitione domus unius etiam mediocris numeri, que est 12 [c] ontinens [MS: XII continens] sibi liberos cum familia [MS adds: sibi] necessaria et [MS: et / atque] decenti; etiamsi Rex sit praepotens atque ditissimus pro congruentia gloriae suae ac magnificentie vix poterit duodecim [MS: XII] filiis decenter atque competenter providere. Poterit utique eis tamquam servis vestitum et cibaria providere, et hoc absque onere et difficultate: non autem ut regis filiis, nec ut decet celsitudinem regiam. Et quia proportionalia sunt onera hujusmodi divitiarum seu potentiarum ipsis divitiis et potentiis, manifestum est hujus numeri domum [MS: hujusdomum / illas] omnis generis divites [MS adds: pro exigencia mirum] onerare, pauperes vero importabiliter. Vix autem invenitur vir et uxor, qui educando et erudiendo omnique modo providendo duodecim [MS: XII] liberos ad virilem perducant etatem. Et quia quod est nidus [MS adds: in] avibus aut nido simile, hoc est domus [MS adds: in] hominibus. Unus autem et una tantum in uno nido pullificant; sic unus et una tantum in una domo generant. Et hoc est per se proprium [MS adds: ipsius] matrimonii, domum scilicet unam aedificare, propter quod mas et foemina patrem et matrem relinquunt, sibique ad [ad: MS omits] invicem adhaerent, ut sibi [MS: sibi / per se] aliam domum edificent.

Guillaume Peyraut seems to have used this in the chapter De inseparabilitate matrimonii, in his Summa de virtutibus et vitiis, I. iii. 18, 2 vols. (Antwerp, 1571), I, fo. 182r.

(53) Ibid., VIII; p. 524b: Manifestum ergo est matrimonia singularia, scilicet [MS: scilicet / id est] inter unum et unam, ipsos limites et angustias facultatum ac divitiarum requirere, et quantumcunque ampla [MS: amplam] ipsarum opulentiam satis onerare, et extensionem seu multiplicationem ipsorum aut non satis esse portabilem aut nullatenus decere humanam naturam.

(54) Ibid., VIII; p. 524b: tantusdolor partus, tanta aerumnositas praegnantium, tantus labor et miseria nutrientium.

(55) Ibid., VIII; p. 524b: de viris: non enim est leve onus providere praegnantibus, enixis, et nutrientibus; similiter custodire parvulos, nutrire et erudire.

(56) Ibid., VIII; p. 526a.

(57) See B. Tierney, Medieval Poor Law: A Sketch of Canonical Theory and Its Application in England (Berkeley, 1959), pp. 35 and 146 n. 23.

(58) Baldwin, Peter the Chanter, i. 133–7 and ii. 91–6 (see also the index-entry ‘prostitutes’); B. Geremek, The Margins of Society in Late Medieval Paris, trans, J. Birrell (Cambridge and Paris, 1987), Ch. 7. See also J. Longère, Oeuvres oratoires des maîtres parisiens au XIIe siècle: Étude historique et doctrinale, 2 vols. (Paris, 1983), i. 351.

(59) A. Simon, L'ordre des pénitentes de S. Marie-Madeleine en Allemagne au XIIIe siècle (Fribourg, 1918), pp. 1–10; H. Grundmann, Religiöse Bewegungen im Mittelalter, 2nd edn. (Hildesheim, 1961), p. 523; H. Leyser, Hermits and the New Monasticism: A Study of Religious Communities in Western Europe, 1100–1150 (London, 1984), p. 49; G. G. Merlo, ‘Sulle “misere donnicciuole” che predicavano’, Valdesi e valdismi medievali II, Identità valdesi nella soria e nella storiografia (Turin, 1991), pp. 93–112; B. M. Kienzle, ‘The Prostitute-Preacher: Patterns of Polemic against medieval Waldensian Women Preachers’, in Women Preachers and Prophets through Two Millenia of Christianity, ed. B. M. Kienzle and P. J. Walker (Berkeley, Los Angeles, and London, 1998), pp. 99–113. On Henry see also Ch. 2 above and n. 116. Modern accounts of medieval prostitution downplay reform: see L. L. Otis, Prostitution in Medieval Society: The History of an Urban Institution in Languedoc (Chicago, London, 1985), pp. 72–6; V. L. Bullough, ‘The prostitute in the early middle ages’, in Sexual Practices and the Medieval Church, ed. V. L. Bullough and J. Brundage (Buffalo, NY, 1982), pp. 34–42 (p. 41); R. M. Karras, Common Women: Prostitution and Sexuality in Medieval England, Studies in the History of Sexuality (Oxford, 1996).

(60) Historia occidentalis, VIII; ed. J. F. Hinnebusch, The Historia Occidentalis of Jacques de Vitry: A Critical Edition, Spicilegium Friburgense 17 (Fribourg, 1972), p. 287.

(61) X 4. 1. 20; Friedberg, ii. 668; Baldwin, Peter the Chanter, i. 137 and ii. 96 n. 152.

(62) Quoted by Simon, Pénitentes, p. 5: novam domum filiarum Dei inchoavit et plures communes multerculas predicatione sua a peccato retraxit; et horum exemplo in aliis civitatibus cepit hic ordo dilatari.

(63) See ‘Couvent des Filles-Dieu. Notice historique’, in E. Raunié and M. Prinet, Epitaphier du vieux Paris, 4 vols. (Paris, 1890–1914), iv. 317–52.

(64) De moribus, VII; Opera omnia, i. 219b.

(65) De matrimonio, IV; p. 517a.

(66) De legibus, I; Opera omnia, i. 25a: de his est non solum credulitas aut opinio, sed per quotidianam experientiam certitudo.

(67) De matrimonio, II; p. 513b: ipsa semina humane generationis non expectantes, exortum sive partum praefocant et praeextinguunthumanam naturam fructu suo preciosissimo innumerae prolis orbant.

(68) Ibid., IX; p. 525b: non solum de industria fructuum declinantes sed etiam ipsum opus, quod debuit esse generationis, in turpitudinem detorquentes et ad fructum penitus inutile efficientes.

(69) Ibid., II; p. 514a: etsi fructus interdum ex opere generationis exoritur, aut ex parte aut ex toto perit, cum non sit qui custodiat, nutriat, educet, erudiat et alia necessaria et salubria proli provideat.

(70) Ibid., II; p. 514b: quis enim enixe in tanta miseria constitute provideat, et in tanta indigentia positae, cum ignoretur de quo prolem susceperit? Quis autem impraegnando eam, occasiones tantae miseriae et indigentiae dederit, cum passim et indifferenter fuerit omnibus libidinantibus prostituta?

(71) The observation and the question ‘Why do prostitutes infrequently conceive?’ seem to go back in western learned literature to William of Conches (died after 1154). See D. Jacquart and C. Thomasset, Sexuality and Medicine in the Middle Ages, trans. M. Adamson (Oxford, 1988), pp. 25 (on the theme in William of Conches), 64 (Vincent of Beauvais), and 81 (Albert the Great). Additional to the references given here are Albert, In sententias, IV. xxxiii. 3 (xxx. 295a); J. Cadden, Meanings of Sex Difference in the Middle Ages: Medicine, Science and Culture (Cambridge, 1993), pp. 93–4 (on the theme in a group of twelfth-century anonymous questions, influenced by William of Conches); J.W.Baldwin, The Language of Sex: Five Voices from Northern France around 1200 (Chicago, 1994), pp. 216–17 (on the theme in William of Conches, The Prose Salernitan Questions, and the fabliau Richeut); P. Biller, ‘Birth-control in the West in the Thirteenth and Early Fourteenth Centuries’, Past and Present 94 (1982), 3–26, at p. 18 and n. 64 (on the theme in Vincent of Beauvais and Giles of Rome); R. J. Long, ‘Richard Fishacre's Super s. Augustini Librum de Haeresibus Adnotationes: An Edition and Commentary’, AHDLMA 60 (1993), 207–79 (p. 251); J. Rossiaud, Medieval Prostitution (Oxford, 1988), p. 124 (Jean Gerson). I am grateful to Faramerz Dabhoiwala for drawing my attention to the speculations in T. Laqueur, Making Sex: Body and Gender from the Greeks to Freud (Cambridge, Mass., and London, 1990), pp. 230–3.

(72) William of Conches, Dialogus de substantiis physicis, VI (Strasbourg, 1567), p. 240: Cum prostitutae meretrices frequentissime coeant, unde est quod raro concipiunt?

(73) De matrimonio, VIII; p. 524a: Ipsa voluptas suo augmento et vehementia impedit fructum generationis. Qui enim maxime ardent hujusmodi concupiscentia, paucae generationis sunt et pauci fructus aut nullius, et cito steriles efficiuntur et ad generationem inepti, sive propter hoc, quia ex hujusmodi ardore semen generationum consumitur, sive quia frequentatio ipsius commixtionis ne in vitam coalescat hujusmodi semen impedit. Quod apparet in mulieribus prostitutis, que raro vel nunquam concipiunt, vel nimio ardore exhauste, vel nimia frequentia turpitudinis semen in se vitam habere et coalescere prohibente.

(74) De animalibus, X. ii. 1; i. 745: nimius usus coitus, sicut est in meretricibus, propter quod etiam rarissime concipiunt.

(75) Giles, De regimine, I. ii. 10; p. 248 (arguing the bad effect of a woman being united to more than one man): Impeditur enim ipsa foecunditas filiorum, si una foemina pluribus coniungatur viris, unde et meretrices conspicimus esse magis steriles, quam alias mulieres.

(76) BN, MS Lat. 16089, fol. 54r: Alia questio fuit utrum meretrix possit concipere.

(77) Problemata Varia Anatomica: MS 1165 The University of Bologna, ed. L. R. Lind, University of Kansas Studies, Humanistic Publications 38 (Lawrence, Kan. 1968), p. 65: Quare mulieres publice non concipiunt.

(78) J. Prawer, Crusader Institutions (Oxford, 1980), p. 121.

(79) J. Prawer, The Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem: European Colonialism in the Middle Ages (London, 1972), pp. 129–30, 139, 151–2, 154, 161, 163, 166, 188, and 190. An earlier account of settlement and population is in R. C. Smail, Crusading Warfare (1097–1193) (Cambridge, 1956), pp. 40–62.

(80) C. Marshall, Warfare in the Latin East, 1192–1291 (Cambridge, 1992), pp. 32–3.

(81) R. Ellenblum, Frankish Rural Settlement in the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem (Cambridge, 1998).

(82) Fulcher of Chartres, Historia Hierosolymitana, Prologue, IV, in A History of the Expedition to Jerusalem, 1095–1127, trans. F. R. Ryan, ed. H. S. Fink (Knoxville, 1969), p. 58.

(83) Fulcher, Historia Hierosolymitana, II. vi; History of the Expedition, pp. 149–50.

(84) M.-T. d’Alvemy's articles provide the fundamental account of western theologians’ knowledge of Islam; in her ‘Alain de Lille et l’Islam. Le “Contra Paganos”’, Cahiers de Fanjeaux 18 (Toulouse, 1983), pp. 323–50; see the survey, pp. 304–5, and the material cited in nn. 14–18. See also Daniel, Islam and the West, with the caveat that cited sources can be difficult to trace; R. W. Southern, Western Views of Islam in the Middle Ages (Cambridge, Mass., 1962); J. Kritzeck, Peter the Venerable and Islam (Princeton, 1964); Kedar, Crusade and Mission.

(85) Gesta regum Anglorum, ed. W. Stubbs, 2 vols., RS 90 (1887–9), ii. 395; R. M. Thomson, ‘William of Malmesbury and Some Other Western Writers on Islam’, Medievalia et Humanistica, n.s. 6 (1975), pp. 179–87 (p. 184).

(86) Ibid., p. 181; Kedar, Crusade and Mission, p. 88 n. 125.

(87) Peter the Venerable, Summa totius haeresis Saracenorum, ed. J. Kritzeck, Peter the Venerable, pp. 205 and 210: iam pene terciam humani generis partemiam pene dimidta pars mundi reputari potest.

(88) Quiescere faciamus nomen Christi a terra: tollamus locum et gentem. Venite et disperdamus in multitudine gravi Christiani populi paucitatem; letter of Baldwin, archbishop of Canterbury, PL 207, 307. See N. Daniel, ‘Crusade Propaganda’, in A History of the Crusades, ed. K. M. Setton, 6 vols. (Madison, 1969–89), VI, 39–97 (p. 49).

(89) On the authenticity of these letters, see H. E. Mayer, ‘Der Brief Kaiser Friedrichs I. an Saladin vom Jahre 1188’, Deutsches Archiv 14 (1958), 488–94 (p. 488 and n. 7 on Saladin's letter). Whether authentic or not, they attest western thought.

(90) Ed. J. Muñoz Sendino, ‘Al-Kindi, Apología del Cristianism’, Miscelánea Comillas 11–12 (Comillas, Santander, 1949), pp. 337–460; see M.-T. d’Alverny, ‘Deux traductions latines du Coran au moyen âge’, AHDLMA 16 (1948), 68–131 (pp. 87–90), and ‘Alain de Lille et l’Islam. Le “Contra Paganos”’, p. 322 n. 15; Kritzeck, Peter the Venerable, pp. 31–2, 34 and n. 110, 56 and n. 26, and 101–7; Kedar, Crusade and Mission, p. 19 n. 37.

(91) Sendino, ‘Al-Kindi’, p. 419.

(92) Dialogi, V; PL 157, 598. On Alfonsi's use of the Koran and the Risālat, see G. Monnot, ‘Les citations coraniques dans le “Dialogus” de Pierre Alfonse’, Cahiers de Fanjeaux 18 (Toulouse, 1983), pp. 261–77. On Alfonsi's influence, see J. Tolan, Petrus Alfonsi and His Medieval Readers (Gainesville, etc., Fla. 1993).

(93) Sendino, ‘Al-Kindi’, p. 389.

(94) De fide, Liber quartus contra paganos, ed. M.-T. D’Alverny, Cahiers de Fanjeaux 18 (Toulouse, 1983), pp. 323–50 (pp. 339–40); see d’Alverny's comments in her ‘Alain de Lille’, p. 310.

(95) Some of the texts examined here may slightly postdate William's treatise.

(96) C. Cannuyer, ‘La date de rédaction de I’ “Historia Orientalis” de Jacques de Vitry (1160/70–1240), évêque d’Acre’, Revue d'Histoire Ecclésiastique 78 (1983), 65–72 (p. 71); the outer limits are March 1219 and April 1221.

(97) Jacques de Vitry, Historia orientalis, I. xcv; pp. 228–9.

(98) Ibid., I. iv; pp. 8–9.

(99) Ibid., I. vi; pp. 25–6. Similar comment in Gerald of Wales, De principis instructione, I. xviii, ed. G. F. Warner, in Opera omnia, 8 vols., RS 21 (1861–91), viii. 70.

(100) Historia orientalis, I. vi; pp. 27 and 30.

(101) Valois, Guillaume d'Auvergne, pp. 113 and 352–4; T. Rymer, Foedera, Conventiones, Literae…, 3rd edn. 10 vols. (Hague, 1745, repr., Famborough, 1967), i, part 1, 114b–5a.

(102) C. J. Tyerman, England and the Crusades 1095–1588 (Chicago and London, 1988), p. 94.

(103) Chronica Majora [1248], V, 3–5.

(104) Valois, Guillaume d'Auvergne, p. 116; Matthew Paris, Chronica Majora [1241], iv. 109–11; see also vi. 75–6, a letter from a Hungarian bishop to William, reporting to him about the land and military numbers of the Mongols.

(105) De legibus, I; Opera omnia, i. 27a–b.

(106) De legibus, XXI; Opera omnia, i. 59b.

(107) Ibid.; Opera omnia, i. 57a–b. See J. Le Goff, La naissance de purgatoire (Paris, 1981), p. 327, on the populousness of the purgatory envisaged by William.

(108) De legibus,XIX; Opera omnia, i. 52b.

(109) De matrimonio, VIII; p. 524b.

(110) We should note the presence in the treatise of a contemporary Parisian theologian of a question ‘whether fornication is a mortal sin’; William of Auxerre, Summa aurea, IV. xvii. 3 Q. 2; iv. 397–9. The question ventilates arguments about natural law and the naturalness of sexual union outside marriage, and, together with William of Auvergne's writings, suggests some presence in the Paris of the 1220s of the naturalist arguments which are better known from later thirteenth-century Paris, where they were condemned in 1277.

(111) De matrimonio, IX; p. 526b.

(112) De matrimonio, III; p. 515b.