Later Medieval Law: Practice, Literature, Ritual

History 280B/285B

Fall 2018
2231 Dwinelle
Day & Time: 
Tues 12–3pm

This course will focus primarily on France and England from the late 12th through the 14th centuries. However, assignments for the last several weeks will remain open, in order to accommodate students’ different interests. The first purpose of the course is simply to introduce some of the basic elements of legal organization and practice. We will therefore cover English writs, eyres, and commissions of oyer et terminer and trailbaston, and French “common law” rules of procedure and proof. A second purpose is to expose the public performative elements of legal procedures, concentrating especially on the ceremonial of the last great judicial circuits of Edward I’s reign and arbitration proceedings in 14th-century Marseille. A third purpose is to examine the highly self-aware literary construction of legal texts and argumentation (for example, Beaumanoir’s Coutumes de Beauvaisis), and some representations of law in literature (such as the English Song of Trailbaston and probably some French fabliaux). Most readings will be available in English or available in English translation.

  • For 280B, use class number 32908
  • For 285B, use class number 22909