In a Medieval theological manual, a man is given permission to “castigate his wife and beat her for correction…”.
4The Christian church vacillates between support of wife beating and encouraging husbands to be more compassionate and using moderation in their punishments of their wives.
He states that when women married, they “gave themselves to their husbands” in contract, and could not withdraw that consent until they divorced.
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A medieval Christian scholar, Friar Cherbubino of Siena, writes Rules of Marriage, in support of wife beating.
3Lord Hale, an English Jurist, sets the tradition of non-recognition of marital rape.
3In Europe, squires and noblemen beat their wives as regularly as they beat their serfs; the peasants faithfully followed their lords’ example. Priests advise abused wives to win their husbands’ good will through increased devotion and obedience.
The habit of looking upon women as a species apart, without the same feelings and capacity for suffering which men possess, becomes inbred during the Middle Ages.
Lord Hale burned women at the stake as witches and has been characterized as a misogynist.
During the reign of Romulus in Rome, wife beating is accepted and condoned under The Laws of Chastisement.
Under these laws, the husband has absolute rights to physically discipline his wife.
Since by law, a husband is held liable for crimes committed by his wife, this law was designed to protect the husband from harm caused by the wife’s actions.
These laws permit the husband to beat his wife with a rod or switch as long as its circumference is no greater than the girth of the base of the man’s right thumb, hence “The Rule of Thumb.” The tradition of these laws is perpetuated in English Common Law and throughout most of Europe.