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Vernacular Law: Writing and the Reinvention of Customary Law in Medieval France


ISBN13: 9781009217897
Published: November 2022
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Country of Publication: UK
Format: Hardback
Price: £95.00



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Custom was fundamental to medieval legal practice. Whether in a property dispute or a trial for murder, the aggrieved and accused would go to lay court where cases were resolved according to custom. What custom meant, however, went through a radical shift in the medieval period. Between the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, custom went from being a largely oral and performed practice to one that was also conceptualized in writing. Based on French lawbooks known as coutumiers, Ada Maria Kuskowski traces the repercussions this transformation – in the form of custom from unwritten to written and in the language of law from elite Latin to common vernacular – had on the cultural world of law. Vernacular Law offers a new understanding of the formation of a new field of knowledge: authors combined ideas, experience and critical thought to write lawbooks that made disparate customs into the field known as customary law.

Subjects:
Legal History
Contents:
Introduction: vernacular writing and the transformation of customary law in Medieval France
Part I. Written Custom and the Formation of Vernacular Law:
1. What is custom? Concept and literary practice
2. Composing customary law as a vernacular law
3. Writing a 'ius non scriptum': writtenness, memory and change
Part II. Political and Intellectual Tensions:
4. Uneasy jurisdictions: lay and ecclesiastical law
5. Roman law, authority and creative citation
Part III. Implications:
6. Custom in lawbooks and records of legal practice
7. Dynamic text: dialectic, manuscript culture and customary law
8. Implications of circulating text: crafting a French common law
Conclusion: lasting model and professional community
Bibliography
Index

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