Canon law was simultaneously a product of and an integrating com ponent within medieval religion and politics. There was virtually no way to escape its influence. Canonical rules were all-pervasive. They reached, as we have seen, into virtually every nook and cranny of hum an conduct, both public and private. Even when people flouted canonical norms, as nearly everyone did occasionally, they were often conscious that the rules existed and took pains to disguise, or at least to rationalize, significant departures from them.