Law and the Illicit in Medieval Europe

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Ruth Mazo Karras, Joel Kaye, E. Ann Matter
University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008 - History - 315 pages

In the popular imagination, the Middle Ages are often associated with lawlessness. As historians have long recognized, however, medieval culture was characterized by an enormous respect for law, legal procedure, and the ideals of justice and equity. Many of our most important modern institutions and legal conceptions grew out of medieval law in its myriad forms (Roman, canon, common, customary, and feudal).

Institutional structures represent only a small portion of the wider cultural field affected by—and affecting—law. In Law and the Illicit in Medieval Europe such distinguished scholars as Patrick Geary, William Chester Jordan, R. I. Moore, Edward M. Peters, and Susan Mosher Stuard make the case that the development of law is deeply implicated in the growth of medieval theology and Christian doctrine; the construction of discourses on sin, human nature, honor, and virtue; the multiplying forms governing chivalry, demeanor, and social interaction, including gender relations; and the evolution of scholasticism, from its institutional context within the university to its forms of presentation, argumentation, and proof.


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List of Abbreviations
List of Contributors

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About the author (2008)

Ruth Mazo Karras is Professor of History at the University of Minnesota and author of From Boys to Men: Formations of Masculinity in Later Medieval Europe, also published by the University of Pennsylvania Press. Joel Kaye is Professor of History at Barnard College and author of Economy and Nature in the Fourteenth Century: Money, Market Exchange, and the Emergence of Scientific Thought. E. Ann Matter is Associate Dean for Arts and Letters in the School of Arts and Sciences and William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of The Voice of My Beloved: The Song of Songs in Western Medieval Christianity, also published by the University of Pennsylvania Press.

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