Corráin, “The Irish Church, Its Reform and the English Invasion”

In June, Four Courts Press will release The Irish Church, Its Reform and the English Invasion by Donnchadh Ó Corráin (University College Cork). The publisher’s description follows:

Irish HistoryThis book radically reassesses the reform of the Irish Church in the twelfth century, on its own terms and in the context of the English Invasion that it helped precipitate. Professor Ó Corráin sets these profound changes in the context of the pre-Reform Irish church, in which he is a foremost expert. He re-examines how Canterbury’s political machinations drew its archbishops into Irish affairs, offering Irish kings and bishops unsought advice, as if they had some responsibility for the Irish church: the author exposes their knowledge as limited and their concerns not disinterested.

The Irish Church, its Reform and the English Invasion considers the success of the major reforming synods in giving Ireland a new diocesan structure, but equally how they failed to impose marriage reform and clerical celibacy, a failure mirrored elsewhere. And when St Malachy of Armagh took the revolutionary step of replacing indigenous Irish monasticism with Cistercian abbeys and Augustinian priories, the consequences were enormous. They involved the transfer to the bishops and foreign orders of vast properties from the great traditional houses (such as Clonmacnoise and Monasterboice) which, the author argues, was better called asset-stripping, if not vandalism.

Laudabiliter satis (1155/6), Pope Adrian IV’s letter to Henry II, gave legitimacy to English royal intervention in Ireland on the specious grounds that the Irish were Christians in name, pagan in fact. Henry came to Ireland in 1171, most Irish kings submitting to him without a blow, and, at the Council of Cashel (1171/2), the Irish episcopate granted the kingship of Ireland to him and his successors forever – a revolution in church and state. These momentous events are re-evaluated here, the author delivering a damning verdict on the motivations of popes, bishops and kings.

Davis-Secord, “Where Three Worlds Met”

In June, the Cornell University Press will release “Where Three World Met: Sicily in the Early Medieval Mediterranean,” by Sarah Davis-Secord (University of New Mexico).  The publisher’s description follows:

Sicily is a lush and culturally rich island at the center of the Mediterranean Sea. Throughout its history, the island has been conquered and colonized by successive logo_cornelluniversitypresswaves of peoples from across the Mediterranean region. In the early and central Middle Ages, the island was ruled and occupied in turn by Greek Christians, Muslims, and Latin Christians.

In Where Three Worlds Met, Sarah Davis-Secord investigates Sicily’s place within the religious, diplomatic, military, commercial, and intellectual networks of the Mediterranean by tracing the patterns of travel, trade, and communication among Christians (Latin and Greek), Muslims, and Jews. By looking at the island across this long expanse of time and during the periods of transition from one dominant culture to another, Davis-Secord uncovers the patterns that defined and redefined the broader Muslim-Christian encounter in the Middle Ages.

Sicily was a nexus for cross-cultural communication not because of its geographical placement at the center of the Mediterranean but because of the specific roles the island played in a variety of travel and trade networks in the Mediterranean region. Complex combinations of political, cultural, and economic need transformed Sicily’s patterns of connection to other nearby regions—transformations that were representative of the fundamental shifts that took place in the larger Mediterranean system during the Middle Ages. The meanings and functions of Sicily’s positioning within these larger Mediterranean communications networks depended on the purposes to which the island was being put and how it functioned at the boundaries of the Greek, Latin, and Muslim worlds.

Rist, “Popes and Jews, 1095-1291”

In March, the Oxford University Press released “Popes and Jews, 1095-1291,” by Rebecca Rist.  The publisher’s description follows:

In Popes and Jews, 1095-1291, Rebecca Rist explores the nature and scope of the relationship of the medieval papacy to the Jewish communities of western Europe. Rist 9780198717980analyses papal pronouncements in the context of the substantial and on-going social, political, and economic changes of the eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth centuries, as well the characters and preoccupations of individual pontiffs and the development of Christian theology. She breaks new ground in exploring the other side of the story – Jewish perceptions of both individual popes and the papacy as an institution – through analysis of a wide range of contemporary Hebrew and Latin documents. The author engages with the works of recent scholars in the field of Christian-Jewish relations to examine the social and legal status of Jewish communities in light of the papacy’s authorisation of crusading, prohibitions against money lending, and condemnation of the Talmud, as well as increasing charges of ritual murder and host desecration, the growth of both Christian and Jewish polemical literature, and the advent of the Mendicant Orders.

Popes and Jews, 1095-1291 is an important addition to recent work on medieval Christian-Jewish relations. Furthermore, its subject matter – religious and cultural exchange between Jews and Christians during a period crucial for our understanding of the growth of the Western world, the rise of nation states, and the development of relations between East and West – makes it extremely relevant to today’s multi-cultural and multi-faith society.

Elbendary, “Crowds and Sultans”

In March, Oxford University Press released “Crowds and Sultans: Urban Protest in Late Medieval Egypt and Syria,” by Amina Elbendary (American University in Cairo).  The publisher’s description follows:

During the fifteenth century, the Mamluk sultanate that had ruled Egypt and Syria since 1249-50 faced a series of sustained economic and political challenges to its rule,9789774167171 from the effects of recurrent plagues to changes in international trade routes. Both these challenges and the policies and behaviors of rulers and subjects in response to them left profound impressions on Mamluk state and society, precipitating a degree of social mobility and resulting in new forms of cultural expression. These transformations were also reflected in the frequent reports of protests during this period, and led to a greater diffusion of power and the opening up of spaces for political participation by Mamluk subjects and negotiations of power between ruler and ruled.

Rather than tell the story of this tumultuous century solely from the point of view of the Mamluk dynasty, Crowds and Sultans places the protests within the framework of long-term transformations, arguing for a more nuanced and comprehensive narrative of Mamluk state and society in late medieval Egypt and Syria. Reports of urban protest and the ways in which alliances between different groups in Mamluk society were forged allow us glimpses into how some medieval Arab societies negotiated power, showing that rather than stoically endure autocratic governments, populations often resisted and renegotiated their positions in response to threats to their interests.

This rich and thought-provoking study will appeal to specialists in Mamluk history, Islamic studies, and Arab history, as well as to students and scholars of Middle East politics and government and modern history.

“Law and Religious Minorities in Medieval Societies” (Echevarria et al, eds.)

In June, Brepols Publishers will release “Law and Religious Minorities in Medieval Societies: Between Theory and Praxis,” edited by Ana Echevarria (UNED, Madrid) Juan Pedro Monferrer-Sala (University of Cordoba), and John V. Tolan (Universit de Nantes). The publisher’s description follows: 

Muslim law developed a clear legal cadre for dhimmīs, inferior but protected non-Muslim communities (in particular Jews and Christians) and Roman Canon law brepols-publishers-logodecreed a similar status for Jewish and Muslim communities in Europe.  Yet the theoretical hierarchies between faithful and infidel were constantly brought into question in the daily interactions between men and women of different faiths in streets, markets, bath-houses, law courts, etc.  The twelve essays in this volume explore these tensions and attempts to resolve them.  These contributions show law was used to attempt to erect boundaries between communities in order to regulate or restrict interaction between faithful and non-faithful—at at the same time how these boundaries were repeatedly transgressed and negotiated.  These essays explore the possibilities and the limits of the use of legal sources for the social historian.

Brasington, “Order in the Court”

This month, Brill will release “Order in the Court: Medieval Procedural Treatises in Translation,” by Bruce C. Brasington (West Texas A&M University).  The publisher’s description follows:

In Order in the Court, Brasington translates and comments upon the earliest medieval48389 treatises on ecclesiastical legal procedure. Beginning with the eleventh-century
“Marturi Case,” the first citation of the Digest in court since late antiquity and the jurist Bulgarus’ letter to Haimeric, the papal chancellor, we witness the evolution of Roman-law procedure in Italy. The study then focusses on Anglo-Norman works, all from the second half of the twelfth century. The De edendo, the Practica legum of Bishop William of Longchamp, and the Ordo Bambergensis blend Roman and canon law to guide the judge, advocate, and litigant in court. These reveal the study and practice of the learned law during the turbulent “Age of Becket” and its aftermath.

A Blegging Blog about Blood in Bologna

This post concerns an old and much-cited legal chestnut that I have come to think might be more profound (and more tied to “law and religion”) than first appears.  It is also a bleg — a request for help from anyone out there with some expertise in medieval law or medieval Latin, or both.

William Blackstone, in his discussion of statutory interpretation in his Commentaries (first published 1765-69), refers to

the Bolognian law, mentioned by Puffendorf [sic], which enacted “that whoever drew blood in the streets should be punished with the utmost severity,” [and] was held after long debate not to extend to the surgeon, who opened the vein of a person that fell down in the street with a fit.

The point here, of course, is that words should not be read literally if that would give them “a very absurd signification.”

Blackstone’s source, Samuel von Pufendorf, discusses this “case” in his “Law of Nature and Nations,” first published in 1672, and Pufendorf in turn cites a 1516 digest of legal arguments by Nicholas Everhard (aka Everardi, Everts, and several other names).   Pufendorf, for example, adds that the defendant “was in no little peril because it was added in the statute that the words should be taken exactly and without any interpretation.”  Everhard leaves out that tidbit, but does spin out the legal argument at greater length, and emphasizes that punishing the healer would be “absurd and inhuman,” not merely “absurd.”

Now, my intuition tells me that there’s more to this odd tale than meets the modern eye.   Continue reading

Fudge, “The Trial of Jan Hus: Medieval Heresy and Criminal Procedure”

This May, Oxford published The Trial of Jan Hus: Medieval Hersey and Criminal9780199988082_140 Procedure by Thomas A. Fudge (University of New England, Australia). The publisher’s description follows.

Six hundred years ago, the Czech priest Jan Hus (1371-1415) traveled out of Bohemia, never to return. After a five-year legal ordeal that took place in Prague, in the papal curia, and finally in southern Germany, the case of Jan Hus was heard by one of the largest and most magnificent church gatherings in medieval history: the Council of Constance. Before a huge audience, Hus was burned alive as a stubborn and disobedient heretic. His trial sparked intense reactions and opinions ranging from satisfaction to accusations of judicial murder.

Thomas A. Fudge offers the first English-language examination of the indictment, relevant canon law, and questions of procedural legality. In the modern world, there is instinctive sympathy for a man burned alive for his convictions, and it is presumed that any court that sanctioned such an action must have been irregular. Was Hus guilty of heresy? Were his doctrinal convictions contrary to established ideas espoused by the Latin Church? Was his trial legal? Despite its historical significance and the controversy it provoked, the trial of Jan Hus has never before been the subject of a thorough legal analysis or assessed against prevailing canonical legislation and procedural law in the later Middle Ages.

The Trial of Jan Hus shows how this popular and successful priest became a criminal suspect and a convicted felon, and why he was publicly executed, providing critical insight into what may have been the most significant heresy trial of the Middle Ages.

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