10 January 2019

Stigmaticus perfuga

Some readers are unfamiliar with this phrase. It was used by S Edmund Campion in his Rationes Decem, printed surreptitiously at Stonor House near here and as surreptitiously put on all the seats to be picked up by the University as it gathered for the Act in June 1581. See my paper in Luther and his progeny, Angelico Press, 2017.

It refers to the rumour that John Calvin had been branded after being convicted of homosexual acts. I have no idea whether this is true; I believe the contrary view is that the confusion arose because another inhabitant of Geneva with the same name was thus branded at around the same time. Perhaps an expert could sort this out.

In ancient Rome, runaway slaves, when captured, were branded HFE (Hic Fugitivus Est).

In this country, those convicted of (any) sexual offences against others are required to sign something called the Sex Offenders' Register. This sounds a truly fearful penalty.

But perhaps the branding system would be an even more effective deterrent.

It could be left to the judge or jury to determine whether or not this should be done under a general anaesthetic.

Not really. I'm joking. Who am I to judge?


Cyril said...

Fr. John, there seems to have been another Jean Cauvin at Noyons branded for sodomy, but since the records of that cathedral were destroyed during the wars of religion, we have no sure record one way or the other. This indictment arises from Jerome Bolsec's accusation in his biography of Calvin, a work undertaken in response to Beza's hagiography. Bolsec said that he got his information from Philip Berthelier, a native of Geneva who had been driven from Geneva by Calvin. Berthelier was part of a group that considered themselves Genevan patriots and were quite nettled by all the French interlopers who had banned dancing, cards, and were generally moral busybodies. Bertheliur claimed to have knowledge of the document in Noyon. There was a further story, actually reproduced in Harper's Weekly, but I have been unable to verify the source, that Thomas Stapleton, late of New College, but for years at both Douai and Louvain, also claimed to have seen the document. Neither I nor anyone else I know who has read Stapleton (Peter Marshall) can find this passage. Now, Stapleton's Promptuaria are vast, have gone through multiple editions, and perhaps it is there and I have just not found it, but I have searched and come up empty. There's a chapter on Bolsec in my book, and I address this matter there. https://www.amazon.com/Calvins-Tormentors-Understanding-Conflicts-Reformer/dp/0801098335/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1527608736&sr=1-1

Stephen Barber said...

Being on the sex offenders' register means that the police know the address of the offender - who is under an obligation to report any change of address. The police then supervise the offender, with a degree of intensity proportionate to the assessed risk of reoffending. This reduces the chances of the offender disappearing from sight, to turn up somewhere else and reoffend. It is not a perfect system - what is? - but it generally works quite well.