Conflicts, Confessions, and Contracts

Diocesan Justice in Late Fifteenth-Century Carpentras


Diocesan Justice in Late Fifteenth-Century Carpentras uses notarial records from the 1480s to reconstruct the procedures, caseload, and sanctions of the bishop’s court of Carpentras and compare them to other secular and ecclesiastical courts. The court provided a robust forum for debt litigation utilized by a wide variety of people. Its criminal proceedings focused on recidivist clerics who engaged in fights, disobedience, anti-Jewish activities, and sexual transgressions. Its justice varied depending on whether cases involved violence, sex, or contracts. The judge applied sanctions gingerly and protected litigants’ rights carefully, in ways we might not expect: his role was to intervene in, explore, and document conflicts, and to elicit confessions and mediate disputes. Participants exploited this narrative and archival space well.

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ELIZABETH L. HARDMAN was a Fulbright Scholar and received her doctorate in medieval history from Fordham University. She is an Assistant Professor at Bronx Community College, CUNY and has published on debt litigation in the Journal of Medieval History.
“Wonderful and very readable.”
Stephan Sander-Faes, Columbia University. In: Sixteenth Century Journal, Vol. 50, No. 2 (Summer 2019), pp. 565–567.

1 The Accused and the Court: Confrontations and Legal Spaces
2 De verbis ad verbera: Wounded Honor, Interpersonal Violence, and Exculpatory Narratives
3 Disciplining the Clergy: Personal Sins and Public Challenges
4 Civil Litigation: A Space of Registration and Mediation
5 The Court as a Judicial Space: Coercion and Compliance; Sanctioning and Sentencing
Appendix: Transcriptions of Select Cases
Subject Index
Modern Author Index

Academics interested in medieval legal history and practice; ecclesiastical courts; the clergy; the regulation of sex, violence, and debts; Christian and Jewish relations; also, church history and papal states.
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