Much of what we know about the colourful Russian middle ages comes from legal sources: the treaties of Russian-Scandinavian warlords with the Byzantine emperors, the gradual penetration of Christianity and Byzantine institutions, the endless game of war and peace among the numerous regional princes, the activities of Hanseatic merchants in the wealthy city-republic of Novgorod, the curious relationships between the Mongol conquerors and Russian rulers and church dignitaries, etc. And, at the even further fringes of medieval Europe, there were the Christian kingdoms of Armenia and Georgia, squeezed between the Islamic empires of Iran and Turkey, but each possessing their elaborate and original legal systems. A discussion of more general questions of legal history and legal anthropology precedes the treatment of these various topics.
A strict definition of kinship – a canonical one – was in introduced in to the Nordic medieval legislation. This replaced a looser definition. According to a canonical definition of kinship – constructed after the Church’s incest prohibitions, you were obligated towards all your blood-relatives. This doctrine applies where: 1) The kin group acted as a legal person towards a third party in cases about paying of wergeld, and where the kinsmen collectively took an oath. 2) Rights and obligations between the kindred regulated land transactions either by inheritance, donations or sale. Here the obligations were at their widest. The moral requirement for love and cohesiveness was strengthened by more substantial rules to ensure, that land was not transferred at the expense of kinsmen.
Cáin Lánamna "The Law of Couples", an Old Irish text dated to c. 700, is arguably the most important source of information concerning women and the household economy in early Ireland. The text describes all the recognized marriages and unions, both legal and illegal, and provides information regarding the allocation of property in the event of a divorce. The text was heavily glossed over a period of several centuries and provides insights into changes in the Irish legal system. This book provides, for the first time, an English translation of the entire text and all the accompanying glosses and commentary. It also includes an introduction to early Irish society, linguistic and legal notes, and a glossary to the tract.