The Justice of the State in the Middle Ages

History 156C

Fall 2015
Day & Time: 
TuTh 1230-2P

This course has two purposes, both suggested by its ambiguous title. It is in part a history of state formation in the later middle ages (1100–1400), concentrating on the judicial systems of France, England, and northern Italian cities, and on contemporary ideas about justice and just rule. More important, it is also an opportunity to think about the justice of the state that was being formed and the justice of the process of its formation. Was the medieval state just? Was a just (or even a more just) state created out of an unjust one? If it was just or became so, how did this happen, and what do we mean by "justice"? If it was not and never was, what good is the state at all? Readings will be varied: some medieval treatises on the state; some narratives of politics; some case studies of justice in action; some legal treatises from the middle ages; and a number of secondary sources on English, French and Italian communal justice

Course Books

The consumption of Justice by Smail, Daniel Lord Cornell University Press. ISBN: 978-0-8014-4105-9 Required
Njal's Saga by Magnusson, Magnus, and Palsson, Hermann Penguin Classics. ISBN: 978-0140441031 Required
Dino Compagni's Chronicle of Florence by Bornstein, Daniel University of Pennsylvania Press. ISBN: 978-0812212211 Required