Legal Procedure and Practice in Medieval Denmark


This book offers a comprehensive examination of how the Fourth Lateran Council’s prohibition against trial by ordeal was implemented in Danish secular law and how it required both a fundamental restructuring of legal procedure and an entirely different approach to jurisprudence in practice. It offers a broader understanding of how ideology could penetrate and change jurisprudence firstly by changing the norms, secondly by presupposing new kind of legal institutions. Rather than focusing on pure dogmatics, this investigation will focus on uncovering the ideological character of procedure with regard to how those learned in law and those holding political power thought that jurisprudence needed to be constructed in order to ensure that justice was done in medieval Denmark.

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Per Andersen, Ph.D. (2005) in Law, Aarhus University, is Associate Professor of Law at Aarhus University. He has, among different areas, published extensively on the legal history of Medieval Denmark.
Abbreviations ... ix
List of Illustrations and Maps ... xi
Kings of Denmark ... xiii
Introduction ... 1

Introduction: Medieval Denmark—Part of Europe

Chapter One Medieval Denmark ... 11
Denmark’s Political History until c.1300 ... 11
Social Structures in the Time of the Provincial Laws ... 18
Developments after 1300 ... 24
The Geographical Coverage of this Study ... 28
The Administrative Division and Judicial Administration ... 29

Chapter Two The Tradition—and the New Paradigm ... 37
The Traditional and the New Paradigm ... 46

Chapter Three Learned Law and Secular Legislation ... 50
The Universities and Legal Education ... 52
The Announcement of a New Era—Papal and Secular Law-giving ... 55
Learned Procedural Law at the Beginning of the Thirteenth Century ... 60
Summary ... 67

Part One: Legal Institutions and Procedures of the Provincial Laws
Chapter Four The Danish Provincial Laws ... 71

Chapter Five The Institutions of Legal Administration ... 84
The Sentencing Functions ... 85
New Directions—The Law of Jylland ... 92
Executive Functions—The Ombudsman ... 118
Summary ... 126

Chapter Six Legal Procedure in the Provincial Laws ... 130
The Book on Inheritance and Heinous Crimes ... 130
The Ordinance on Manslaughter 1200 AD ... 137
The Procedure in the Law of Skåne ... 142
Valdemar’s Law for Sjælland—Following the Tradition ... 153
Towards a New Law of Procedure—Eric’s Law for Sjælland ... 156
Innovative Procedural Law—The Law of Jylland ... 169
Summary ... 188

Conclusion Part One Procedural Law in the Thirteenth Century ... 193

Part Two: Legal Procedure and Practice in Late Medieval Denmark
Chapter Seven Learned Tendencies and Practical Considerations ... 205
Centralisation and the Imposition of a Hierarchy ... 206
The Demand for Efficiency—Procedure in the Later Middle Ages ... 212
A Learned Legal Environment in Late-Medieval Denmark? ... 217
The Danish Legal System in the Later Middle Ages ... 220
Sources for the Period c.1300 to 1558 ... 232

Chapter Eight Practice and Regulation at the herredsting ... 242
The Local Court’s Regulation and Organisation ... 242
The Governance of Court—The Official ... 253
Documenting the Activity of the Court—The Court Scribe ... 266
Voting and Decision—The Jurors ... 269
Procedure as Norm and Practice ... 290
Summary ... 310

Chapter Nine Landstinget—between the People and the King ... 314
The Procedure and Running of the Landsting ... 315
The Provincial Court Judge ... 322
The Provincial Court Scribe ... 329
Procedure and Sentencing at the Landsting ... 330
Summary ... 341

Chapter Ten Birkeret, Ting and Local Procedure ... 343
The Patron of the Peculiar, the Foged, the Scribe ... 346
Procedure at the Peculiar Courts ... 349
Summary ... 355

Chapter Eleven The Borough—Continuity and Consequence ... 356
The Law of the Towns—The Town Laws and Practice ... 360
Institutions for the Administration of Justice ... 363
Legal Procedures in the Boroughs—Continuities and Consequences ... 381
Post-Reformation Practice ... 392
Summary ... 396

Chapter Twelve The Royal Court of Law—The Highest Court ... 399
Court and Political Forum ... 400
Procedure and Trial at the Royal Court of Law ... 409
Summary ... 414

Conclusion Part Two Law and Practice in the Late Middle Ages ... 417

Conclusion: Legal Procedure and Practice in Medieval Denmark
Conclusion ... 423

Bibliography ... 429
Subject Index ... 445
All those interested in legal history, Medieval history, and the history of Canon Law.
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