Diseases as causes of divorce in Byzantium
Kourkouta L., Plati P. , Adamou V., Spanopoulou A.
Progress in Health Sciences, Vol.1:2 (2011)
Medical causes are also concerned to be causes of divorce in Christian Byzantium. These diseases included leprosy, madness and impotence of male, and they are studied in the present short historical article. In the cause of divorce for Madness, whilst the wife has to wait five years to seek divorce, the husband has to wait only three years. In the cause of divorce for Impotence of the male, the wife should wait for three years in case of recovery. In the cause of Leprosy, it seems that the disease was a cause of divorce only if it concerned the wife. With these laws, therefore, the Byzantine
leaders protected not only the health of people but also society’s health in general.
Ethical and legal issues related to diseases as causes of divorce present themselves to all health professionals, including nurses from old times. Special problems appear in case in which one of two persons who are married presents an incurable or epidemic disease. According to their beliefs, some of the health professionals (mainly the doctors and nurses) supported the diseases as causes of divorce and others did not. The same problems and dilemmas faced by people in ancient times, as in Byzantine times. The Church and State in Byzantium also faced diseases as causes of divorce. These diseases were the patients with mental problems, patients with leprosy, or in the case of male impotence.