Law and Language in the Middle Ages


Law and Language in the Middle Ages investigates the encounter between law and legal practice from the linguistic perspective. The essays explore how legal language expresses and advances power relations, along with the ways in which the language of law legitimates power. The wide geographical and chronological scope showcases how power, legitimacy and language interact, moving the discussion beyond traditional issues of identity or the formation of nation-states and their institutions. What emerges are different strategies reflective of the diverse and pluralistic political, legal, and cultural worlds of the Middle Ages.

Contributors are Michael H. Gelting, Dirk Heirbaut, Carole Hough, Anette Kremer, Ada Maria Kuskowski, Anders Leegaard Knudsen, André Marques, Matthew McHaffie, Bruce O’Brien, Paul Russell, Werner Schäfke, and Vincenz Schwab.
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Jenny Benham is a Lecturer in Medieval History at Cardiff University. Her publications include Peacemaking in the Middle Ages: Principles and Practice (Manchester, 2011) and numerous articles on various aspects of law and diplomatic practice in the period 800-1250.

Matthew McHaffie completed his Ph.D. on ‘Power, Lordship, and Landholding in Anjou, c.1000–c.1150’ in 2014, and is currently a researcher at King’s College London. He has published on law and lordship in France in the central Middle Ages.

Helle Vogt is a Professor in Legal History at the University of Copenhagen. Her publications include The Function of Kinship in Medieval Nordic Legislation (Leiden, 2010) and numerous articles on aspects of Nordic legal history.
Notes on Contributors
List of Illustrations
Jenny Benham, Matthew McHaffie, and Helle Vogt

part 1 Translation and Interpretation of Law

1 Why Laws Were Translated in Medieval England: Access, Authority, and Authenticity
Bruce O’Brien

2 Translating Justinian: Transmitting and Transforming Roman Law in the Middle Ages
Ada Maria Kuskowski

3 Leges Iutorum: The Medieval Latin Translation of the Law of Jutland
Michael H. Gelting

4 The Languages and Registers of Law in Medieval Ireland and Wales
Paul Russell

part 2 The Languages of Legal Practice and Documentary Culture

5 Latin and the Vernacular in Medieval Legal Documents: The Case of Denmark
Anders Leegaard Knudsen

6 Between the Language of Law and the Language of Justice: The Use of Formulas in Portuguese Dispute Texts (Tenth and Eleventh Centuries)
André Evangelista Marques

7 The Dangers of Using Latin Texts for the Study of Customary Law: The Example of Flemish Feudal Law during the High Middle Ages
Dirk Heirbaut

8 Sources of Legal Language: The Development of Warranty Clauses in Western France, ca.1030–ca.1240
Matthew McHaffie

part 3 Methodology, Interaction, and Language

9 Law and Language in the Leges Barbarorum: A Database Project on the Vernacular Vocabulary in Medieval Manuscripts
Anette Kremer and Vincenz Schwab

10 ‘And since We are No Lawyers, We Will Void the Lawsuit with Battle Axes’! Voiding a Lawsuit in Old Icelandic Procedural Law
Werner Schäfke

11 Biblical Analogues for Early Anglo-Saxon Law
Carole Hough

With its disciplinary approach, and chronological and geographical range, this volume will be of interest to scholars and students of law, history, medieval languages, translation studies and digital humanities.
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