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Middle-Class Ideology in the Urban Literature of the Late Medieval Low Countries

‘Let Each Man Carry on with His Trade and Remain Silent’: Middle-Class Ideology in the Urban Literature of the Late Medieval Low Countries

ABSTRACT:
The vernacular literary output of the ‘chambers of rhetoric’ in the Low Countries provides us with some insight into the ideology of the urban medieval middling classes. This literature included criticisms of social order, and it is argued here that whilst these come from an inherited religious discourse of reform, they can nonetheless be read as speaking to a political ideology particular to the urban context of the late Middle Ages. This article seeks to bring these ideological expressions into view, to contribute to our understanding of the political practices and popular uprisings of this time and place.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Jan Dumolyn, Department of History, Ghent University, Sint-Pietersnieuwstraat 35, B 9000 Ghent, Belgium;, Email:
Jelle Haemers, Department of History, University of Leuven, Blijde Inkomststraat 21, B 3000 Leuven, Belgium;, Email: jelle.haemers@arts.kuleuven.be

SOURCE:
‘Let Each Man Carry on with His Trade and Remain Silent’: Middle-Class Ideology in the Urban Literature of the Late Medieval Low Countries
By Jan Dumolyn and Jelle Haemers
In: Cultural and Social History, Volume 10, Number 2, June 2013 , pp. 169-189 (21). Publication date: 2013-06-01
Publisher: Bloomsbury Journals (formerly Berg Journals)
DOI: http://dx.doi.org.ep.fjernadgang.kb.dk/10.2752/147800413X13591373275169

Health in Medieval Lucca

LuccaHealthscaping a medieval city: Lucca’s Curia viarum and the future of public health history
G. Geltner, Department of History, University of Amsterdam, 134 Spuistraat, 1012 VB, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
In: Urban History / Volume 40 / Issue 03 / August 2013, pp 395-415
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0963926813000321

ABSTRACT:

In early fourteenth-century Lucca, one government organ began expanding its activities beyond the maintenance of public works to promote public hygiene and safety, and in ways that suggest both a concern for and an appreciation of population-level preventative healthcare. Evidence for this shift (which is traceable in and beyond the Italian peninsula) is mostly found in documents of practice such as court and financial records. These augment and complicate the traditional view afforded by urban statutes and medical treatises. The revised if still nebulous picture emerging from this preliminary study challenges a lingering tendency among urban and public health historians to see pre-modern European cities as ignorant and apathetic demographic black holes.

Basis for this conclusion is a careful analysis of the records of the “Curia Viarum”, – the Court of Roads. This body was mainly concerned with “maintaing urban, suburban and regional infrastructure” but it was also held responsible for “enforcing sanitary , labour and building regulations” (p. 398). 13 volumes of early court-proceedings have been preserved from the period 1336 -1377 and presents a series of diverse complaints and rulings pertaining to environmental violations and concerns, like the neglect of maintenance of ovens, contaminations of drinking water supplies, waste thrown into streets, blockage of sewers and drains, keeping animals inside the walls of the city, washing cloth in the fountains etc. The article is according to Guy Geltner a first presentation of the material, which is currently undergoing a more detailed study.

 

 

 

Riht in earlier Anglo-Saxon Legislation

Riht in earlier Anglo-Saxon legislation: a semasiological approach
Daniela Fruscione, University of Frankfurt am Main
In: Historical Research, Volume 86, Issue 233, pages 394–407, August 2013
DOI: 10.1111/1468-2281.12008

ABSTRACT:

The earlier Anglo-Saxon laws offer the rare opportunity for semantic insight into the word riht, which was common to most Germanic languages and is still in use today in all of them. However, German Recht and English ‘right’ had a different semantic history. While the German word still has both an objective and a subjective meaning, ‘right’ kept only the subjective meaning of ‘personal right to something’. The semasiological study of seventh century legislation shows that the Old English word riht did originally have a wider meaning than ‘right’. It meant also customary norm, judgment, claim, fulfilment of the legal claim, legal duty, right to, privilege, sentence, process.

These findings have allowed the author to question both the assumption of German research about the mere subjective meaning of this word in the early middle ages and the interpretation of its semantic development according to a Latin model.

The article is part of a collection of papers presented at a conference in Copenhagen in 2011 organised in collaboration between three digitisation projects: “Early English Law“, “Nordic Medieval Laws” and “Relmin”.

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Read also about the context of the article in “Medieval Law”

The Parker Library, Cambridge

The Twelfth-Century Rubrication of Anglo-Saxon Legal Texts

The twelfth-century rubrication of Anglo-Saxon legal texts in Cambridge, Corpus Christi College, MS. 383
Thomas Gobbitt
In: Historical Research, Volume 86, Issue 233, pages 394–407, August 2013
DOI: 10.1111/1468-2281.12028
University of Cambridge

ABSTRACT:

Cambridge, Corpus Christi College, MS. 383 is an English collection of Anglo-Saxon legal texts produced in the late eleventh century or early years of the twelfth century, possibly at or for St. Paul’s cathedral, London. This article focuses in particular on the scribal strategies and mise-en-page of the rubrics and emendations made to the manuscript by a scribal hand of the first half of the twelfth century. Developments in the concept and technology of the book were used by the scribes, who emended and updated the manuscript to facilitate and direct (potential and actual) readers’ interactions with the legal texts and allow intellectual interests in the continued role of Anglo-Saxon law into the twelfth century to be discerned. “Updating, adaption, appropriation and re-contextualizing of Anglo-saxon Law” continued throughout the 12th century, witnessing to a continued intellectual interest, Thomas Gobbitt argues.

The article is part of a collection of papers presented at a conference in Copenhagen in 2011 organised in collaboration between three digitisation projects: “Early English Law“, “Nordic Medieval Laws” and “Relmin”.

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Read also about the context of the article in “Medieval Law” in Medieval Historiesh

 

a chest designed to hold the Treaty of Calais which was signed between Edward III and Jean II of France from 1360.

Medieval Treaties in their Legal Context

Law or treaty? Defining the edge of legal studies in the early and high medieval periods
Jenny Benham, Project Officer 2009–11 at Early English Laws, now Norwich
In: Historical Research, Volume 86, Issue 233, pages 394–407, August 2013
DOI: 10.1111/1468-2281.12025

ABSTRACT:

The article is an attempt to define medieval treaties in their legal context, thereby re-aligning the medieval historiography with its modern counterpart, and to explore some of the textual and practical possibilities and problems of this context. It considers why some treaties in the early and high middle ages have been regarded as laws while others have not and argues that while the modern concept of international law is based on the three principles of treaties, practice and custom, and general principles of law (including canon or Roman law), medieval scholars have only looked to the latter principle, thereby disregarding the treaties themselves and the corresponding legal practice. Jenny Benham argues that medieval treaties belonged to the category laws.

The article is part of a collection of papers presented at a conference in Copenhagen in 2011 organised in collaboration between three digitisation projects: “Early English Law“, “Nordic Medieval Laws” and “Relmin”.

READ MORE:

Read also about the context of the article in “Medieval Law” in Medieval Histories

Harold Swears and oath on holy reliquaries in the Bayeaux Tapestry. Source: Wikipedia

Oaths and Pledges in Anglo-Saxon Laws

Ge mid wedde ge mid aðe’: the functions of oath and pledge in Anglo-Saxon legal culture
 Matthias AmmonUniversity of Cambridge
In: Historical Research, Volume 86, Issue 233, pages 394–407, August 2013
DOI: 10.1111/1468-2281.12024

ABSTRACT:

The article analyses the Old English terms for ‘pledge-giving’ within the context of Anglo-Saxon law codes and related material such as charters and wills by means of a contextual analysis of the occurrences of such terms. It argues for the centrality of the concept to Anglo-Saxon legal interaction as the means by which agreements, in particular between individuals, were made binding and shows that this had linguistic consequences by tracing the development of the collocation að and wedd (‘oath and pledge’) into a formulaic word pair. Thus the article sheds light on the way in which Oaths and Pledges in Anglo-Saxon Laws were important aspects on the way in which “the prescriptive decrees of the law codes would have functioned in reality” ( and how this changed over time (p. 515).

The article is part of a collection of papers presented at a conference in Copenhagen in 2011 organised in collaboration between three digitisation projects: “Early English Law“, “Nordic Medieval Laws” and “Relmin”.

READ MORE:

Read also about the context of the article in “Medieval Law” in Medieval Histories

Codex Runicus - Source: Wikipedia Arnamagnæan Institute AM28 - 8 - 8vo University of Copenhagen

Creating a Danish Legal Language – the Law of Scania

Creating a Danish legal language: legal terminology in the medieval Law of Scania
Ditlev Tamm and Helle Vogt
In: Historical Research, Volume 86, Issue 233, pages 394–407, August 2013
DOI: 10.1111/1468-2281.12007
University of Copenhagen

ABSTRACT:

In the decades after 1200 the kingdom of Denmark developed a corpus of provincial laws written in Danish for the three major legal provinces. With the legislation for the eastern province of Scania as a starting point, this article shows how the writing down of the law led not only to the creation of a legal language but to a written vernacular language in general. Nonetheless, it was generally not until the fifteenth century that written Danish was found outside of these texts; charters and narrative until that point were written in Latin. The article tells the story of how the Law of Scania came about. According to the authors “it was probably written by a collective of secular magnates, who had the provincial assembly in Lund as a legal arena, and clerics from the cathedral chapter with training in canon and Roman Law and Latin – all under the benign supervision of the archbishop.” (p. 509). The law was written in the vernacular and with an indigenous vocabulary (only 3% of the words can be described as foreign). Many of these words came to designate specific legal concepts, which a little later gave the Archbishop, Anders Sunesen, a challenge when had a Latin translation or rather paraphrase done. He simply had to keep a significant part of the vernacular terms.

The article is part of a collection of papers presented at a conference in Copenhagen in 2011 organised in collaboration between three digitisation projects: “Early English Law“, “Nordic Medieval Laws” and “Relmin”.

READ MORE:

Read also about the context of the article in “Medieval Law”

King Athelstan presenting a copy of Bede's two lives of St Cuthbert to the saint in his shrine at Chester-le-Street in 934. This is the earliest surviving royal Anglo-Saxon portrait (Corpus Christi Cambridge MS 183, fol. 1v)

Anglo-Saxon Law Codes and Legal Norms

Law codes and legal norms in later Anglo-Saxon England
Levi Roach, University of Exeter
In: Historical Research, Volume 86, Issue 233, pages 394–407, August 2013
DOI: 10.1111/1468-2281.12001

ABSTRACT:

The article seeks to provide a fresh perspective on long-standing debates about the role of the written word in later Anglo-Saxon legal culture. Using the Anglo-Saxon law codes of King Æthelstan’s reign as a ‘case study’, it argues that many of the unusual features of early English law are not so much products of orality, as of a fundamentally different approach to legal norms than is prevalent in the modern Western world. It thus seeks to move beyond recent literacy-orality debates, suggesting that it is more profitable to investigate the attitudes shown towards legal norms (both written and oral) within Anglo-Saxon society. “The crucial distinction, writes Levi Roach, lies less between “oral” and “literate” legal cultures, than between two fundamentally different approaches to legal norms: one according to which these are treated as flexibly, more like guidelines and rules; and another according to which they are regarded as prescriptive regulations” (p. 468) This is demonstrated through a careful reading of Æthelstan’s laws which is finally compared to recent research into the comparable Frankish laws as well as some ethnographic case studies. The article represents a good introduction to the scholarly debate concerning how to understand the context of Anglo-Saxon law codes and legal norms

The article is part of a collection of papers presented at a conference in Copenhagen in 2011 organised in collaboration between three digitisation projects: “Early English Law“, “Nordic Medieval Laws” and “Relmin”.

READ MORE:

Read also about the context of the article in “Medieval Law” in Medieval Histories

 

Carolingian Kings and Barbarian Laws

Carolingian kings and the leges barbarorum
Thomas Faulkner, Cambridge University
In: Historical Research, Volume 86, Issue 233, pages 394–407, August 2013
DOI: 10.1111/1468-2281.12027

ABSTRACT:

This article examines various texts attributed to Charlemagne and Louis the Pious, associated with a reform of the Merovingian-era leges barbarorum. It argues that in some cases their attribution to a king is not secure, and proposes they be seen instead as derived from local meetings, independent of direct royal influence. If approached in this way, the contents allow some insight into how the leges were read in the Carolingian period, which is otherwise difficult to derive from surviving sources. They suggest that the leges were used broadly, practically and flexibly in disputes, and were not seen as official, royally endorsed law. This conclusion is reached through a careful analysis of texts like e.g. the so-called Lex Francorum Chamavorum. But also a series of other texts are being reconsidered by Thomas Faulkner. The article presents us with a fresh introduction to some of the major debates in the scholarly circles treating these diverse and to some extent enigmatic texts.

The article is part of a collection of papers presented at a conference in Copenhagen in 2011 organised in collaboration between three digitisation projects: “Early English Law“, “Nordic Medieval Laws” and “Relmin”.

READ MORE:

Read also about the context of the article in “Medieval Law”

 

 

 

Medieval Scandinavian Provincial Laws

The creation of a Scandinavian provincial law: how was it done?
Stefan Brink, University of Aberdeen
DOI: 10.1111/1468-2281.12006

ABSTRACT:

It is well known that lawmaking was inseparable from kingship in England and on the continent. Therefore, there has also been a predominant tendency to see the Medieval Scandinavian provincial laws in a regal context. In this light, the initiators of laws were kings and men belonging to the upper stratum of society, and the laws themselves are seen as reflecting the societal situation, in which they were written down. This article focuses on ‘peripheral’ or ‘provincial’ laws, such as the Icelandic Grágás, the main Svea Law, the Uppland Law and not least the Hälsinge Law. It attempts to show that such laws were not inventions of any one person or group in the thirteenth or fourteenth century, and that they cannot only be mirroring the time, in which they were written down. Rather there are complex layers in the versions of these laws which survive: some old customary law, some probably newly composed law, some having their roots in Roman legal tradition and some in canon law. The picture which emerges is much less clear-cut than has been supposed, showing many regional differences and peculiarities. A key witness to this is the Law of the Hälsinger. In medieval Hälsingland  a king or king-like person was very seldom present and no archaeological or historical sources witness to the presence of an aristocracy. The Land-owning class consisted of free farmers, says Stefan Brink, and goes on to argue how the law was the result of a rewriting of another provincial law, the Uppland Law, but with significant adjustments derived from local customs and inspired by Norwegian legal tradition. The conclusion is that careful shifting may uncover such complex layers in the wider spectrum of Medieval Scandinavian Laws.

The article is part of a collection of papers presented at a conference in Copenhagen in 2011 organised in collaboration between three digitisation projects: “Early English Law“, “Nordic Medieval Laws” and “Relmin”.

READ MORE:

Read also about the context of the article in “Medieval Law”

 

 

 

Medieval Forest laws in England and Normandy in the twelfth century

old-oaktree-savernake-forest
Old Oak from The Savernake Forest

Forest laws in England and Normandy in the twelfth century
Judith A. Green, University of Edinburgh
In: Historical Research, Volume 86, Issue 233, pages 394–407, August 2013
DOI: 10.1111/1468-2281.12003

ABSTRACT:
One of the oldest ideas about the Norman conquest is that William the Conqueror introduced into England from Normandy the legal concept of ‘foresta’, land where hunting and the environment in which it took place were protected by draconian laws. However, the medieval forest laws were not imposed on a blank canvas, and a combination of different factors, such as earlier extensive royal hunting rights, the king’s will, the application of forest law to land ‘outside’, which was organized in manors and assessed for geld, and the status of escheated land as temporary royal demesne; all worked towards a great expansion of the afforested area. In England a great deal of non-royal demesne was under forest law, whereas in Normandy ducal forests were broadly speaking ducal demesne. In England the competing interests of royal sport and revenue and those of the political elite combined with population growth pressured to make the forests a toxic political issue in a way not paralleled in Normandy.

The article is part of a collection of papers presented at a conference in Copenhagen in 2011 organised in a collaboration between three digitisation projects: “Early English Law“, “Nordic Medieval Laws” and “Relmin”.

READ MORE:

Read also about the context of the article in “Medieval Law”

 

The Breviary of Alaric and the Jews

How did the authors of the Breviarium Alaricanum work? The example of the laws on Jews
Capucine Nemo-Pekelman, Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense
In: Historical Research, Volume 86, Issue 233, pages 394–407, August 2013
DOI: 10.1111/1468-2281.12019

ABSTRACT:
To understand the authors of the Breviarium Alaricanum and their purpose, logic and their methods it is necessary to undertake an internal study of the work – a law code collected in sixth-century Aquitaine. This article analyses Alaric’s Breviary, focusing specifically on those laws that concern the Jews. In the authors’ selection of the sources of Roman law, and the organization of those laws in the Breviary, the ‘prudentes’ who produced it made significant choices. This is even more apparent in the rewriting and commentaries. These laws reflect the issues which existed in Western Jewish communities at that time – issues which, as the compilers knew, were still dealt with in tribunals. In their selection and rewriting the prudentes took rather radical steps of removing passages which were not strictly legislative, deleted the majority of contradictory measures and clarified the style”. According to Nemo-Pekelman this was in contradiction to the codifiers of the Theodosian Code, who “had created a consistent work of propaganda on the model of apologetic and heresiological literature to create new legal categories of citizens defined by their religious adherence. They had produced a legal category for heretics, one for pagans and one for the Jews” … “this accumulation of laws and their classification was meant to underline that these citizens ere a marginal group within the civic body” (p.300) According to Capucine Nemo-Pekelman, the authors of the breviary of Alaric did not extend this work of propaganda.

The article is part of a collection of papers presented at a conference in Copenhagen in 2011 organised in a collaboration between three digitisation projects: “Early English Law“, “Nordic Medieval Laws” and “Relmin”. The work on the Breviary of Alaric was carried through in the framework of Relmin.

Early English Laws and Archaeology in seventh-century England

Social structures and social change in seventh-century England – the law codes and complementary sources
By John Hines, Cardiff University
In: Historical Research, Volume 86, Issue 233, pages 394–407, August 2013
DOI: 10.1111/1468-2281.12002

Even though the very early English laws are preserved only in the Textus Roffensis and Ine’s Law code only as an appendage to Alfred’s later laws it is generally believed that they represent a genuine textual tradition. However, the extent to which they should be understood as symbolic assertions of royal power or practical collections of laws which were used to guide the owners in concrete clashes has traditionally been heavily disputed. A carefully contextualized reading by John Hines of the four surviving Anglo-Saxon law codes issued in the seventh century, three from Kent and one from Wessex, shows the body of legislation they contain to be coherent and practical, and to support subtle insights into social relationships, processes of social change, and areas of social stress in that period. The importance of especially archaeological evidence, in particular that concerning the use and significance of materials and artefacts, and developments in settlement structures and the overall settlement pattern, is particularly emphasized. For instance the attention is drawn to the fact that the gold-buckle in the grave-assemblage from Sutton Hoo was made from a quantity of gold, representing 300 Kentish gold shillings corresponding to the exact “wergeld” of a nobleman.

The article is part of a collection of papers presented at a conference in Copenhagen in 2011 organised in a collaboration between three digitisation projects: “Early English Law“, “Nordic Medieval Laws” and “Relmin”.

Empire

empire-call for papersEach year IMC in Leeds choose a special thematic strand; for 2014 it is “Empire”.

2014 is the year when the world will celebrate two important anniversaries –the 2000 years since Augustus died and the 1200 years since Charlemagne passed away. Both events will be duly celebrated all over Europe with conferences, exhibitions and publications. Probably inspired by this, the thematic strand for the IMC next year is “empire” or “imperium”.

In the call for papers the organisers write that: “Although the last Western Roman emperor was deposed in 476, the Roman Empire continued to shape imagination even when it had ceased to play a major political role. Throughout the Middle Ages, “Empire” suggested a claim to universal lordship. The concept of imperium implied not only the ability and power to exercise authority over others, but could also be used to distinguish spiritual from secular spheres of power. There was also the concept of “informal empire”, a term often employed by modern historians to describe a group of distinct territories held together by ties of commerce, ideology, dynastic traditions, or conquest. “Informal empires” were forged by King Cnut in the 11th century and by the rulers of Aragon in the 14th. The papacy, the western Empire, and Byzantium all claimed to inherit the mantle of Rome, while the Caliphates expressed a similar claim to universal leadership. The meaning of imperium, in turn, became a central issue in medieval scholarship, whether in scholastic theology, medieval philosophy, canon law, or the writing of history and literature. No type of empire was unable to avoid challenges (and challengers). Each type exercised a profound influence not only on politics, but on every aspect of daily life: on commerce and trade as well as the environment, cultural practice, social structures and organisation, the movement of ideas and people. Empires and their rulers could also be products of political and cultural memory and myth-making, with Charlemagne, Arthur, and Troy perhaps among the more famous examples. “Empire” was not limited to the regions surrounding the medieval Mediterranean. Universal monarchy was central to the self-representation of imperial China, while informal empires rose and fell in Africa as well as in Asia and pre-Columbian America. Christian, Confucian, Buddhist, and Islamic scholars discussed ‘Empire’ in all its varieties and forms. Empire was a universal phenomenon, and thus calls for sustained exploration across a wide range of disciplines, and geographical and chronological areas of expertise.”

Points of discussion could include:

  • The role of settlers, merchants, rulers, and others in creating and fashioning empire
  • The decline and fall of empires
  • The typology of empire
  • The governance and organisation of empires
  • The experience of empire by individuals and communities
  • The representation of Empire in music, art, literature, and material culture
  • Traditions of empire, their use and development
  • Theoretical models of Empire: Medieval and modern
  • Concepts and practices of empire in the Islamic world, Africa, America, and Asia
  • The role of imperium in medieval philosophy, theology, and literature
  • The role of universal authority in medieval thought and practice
  • The influence of medieval concepts and practices of empire on their post-medieval successors

READ MORE: See the full call for papers at the IMC Website

Read about a recent symposium in Germany in connection with the exhibition on Otto the Great: Otto der Grosse und der Römische reich. Kaisertum Zum Mittelalter.

Read about the Karlsjahr 2014

Hot or not – in Leeds

Word-counts can be used to uncover what the hot topics were at the Medieval Congress in Leeds …

Doing a work–count–analysis is very simple. You just run a text through a site like WriteWords and the list crops up.

What then are the results of an analysis of the sessions at the International Medieval Congress in Leeds this year apart from the 145 times “pleasure” and “pleasures” was mentioned? (Pleasure was the overarching thematic strand)

First of all it is pertinent to mention that the most frequent word was English (24). Paired with England + Britain (22) the slant is apparent. Participants may come from all over the world, but a significant number does come from England and give presentations on such topics as local history in Chester and elsewhere. However it is worth mentioning that Europe also played a significant role, mentioned 23 times.

Bodmer+Causa+6

Looking at perspectives it is pertinent to mention that the word culture may only have been mentioned 14 times. However cultural was used 12 times, making it by far the most important orientation (26). Compared to this political and politics (22), social (14) and spiritual (13) perspectives were much less prominent.

Considering topics, the most important was text(s) (30). This was followed by medieval law (23), literature (21) history (16) saints (13) and finally violence and military (12). Less prominent but still important were topics like crusades (10), communities (10), music (9) landscapes (9) and the Venerable Bede (9). Finally a bit further down the list we find Cistercian (8) and Byzantium (8) mentioned topped off by such locations as Italy, Ireland and Scandinavia.

To sum it up: Anyone in search of a hot topic in Leeds this summer might have focused on Cultural Perspectives on Early Medieval English Laws and their Textual and Literary Qualities. Not that anyone gave such a paper but someone might very well have done…

 

READ MORE:

Read the word-count-analysis done on the programme at Kalamazoo 2013