4th WLC — Premise, Goals and Structure of the Workshop

Lit de justice at Vendôme (1458), from Jean Fouquet, Des cas des nobles hommes et femmes. Source: Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, cod. gall. 6, fol. 2v

Premise and Goals

The growth of the administrative apparatus of government and the expansion of its claims of authority and control on society combined with the thickening numbers of law graduates to broaden the scope of the service that jurists provided to rulers: from their natural habitats, the court of law and the chancery, they gradually moved into less familiar milieus and roles, such as the treasury and the council, the offices of regional administration and the responsibilities of diplomatic representation. Furthermore, jurists shaped government and politics in more informal and sporadic ways, as publicists and writers of legal consultations, for example.

This evolution of the roles jurists played in government as it developed and became more complex throughout the Middle Ages is precisely the theme of this workshop. Specialists in different periods and regions of medieval Europe are invited to reflect:

/ on the nature of the service jurists provided to rulers;

/ on the connexion between that service and the transformation of politics and government in a specific period;

/ on the extent to which jurists were agents or instruments of that transformation;

/ on their social extraction, on their typical training and career structure, on the manner of their recruitment and remuneration;

/ on the relative weight of formal and informal service;

/ on the extent to which the ‘politicisation’ of government in the later Middle Ages changed the nature of the service provided by jurists;

/ on the contribution of jurists to the theorisation of government and politics, and on the relationship between their intellectual pursuits and their service to government.

Contributors are free to outline a general characterisation or to focus on one or several case-studies, but it is imperative that they reflect on, and try to engage with, the questions above that are relevant to their individual subjects. This will ensure a meaningful basis for discussion and will help to bring out more sharply, and with a modicum of analytical rigour, the stable as well as the dynamic aspects of the service of jurists to the medieval government between 1000 and 1500.

Structure of the Workshop

Oral presentations at the workshop will take 20 minutes, followed by 15 minutes for comments by the designated reader and another 15 minutes for general discussion.

We think that a concentrated debate, stimulated by a shared reflection and drawing on different scholarly backgrounds and historical sensibilities, is not only a rich and rewarding experience in itself, but also a sound foundation for envisaging a coherent collective publication. Therefore, and notwithstanding the exploratory and open-ended nature of this workshop, we will encourage contributors, in due course, to expand and rework their papers in light of the ideas discussed during the workshop, with a view to their publication in a peer-reviewed thematic volume.

The 4th Workshop on Legal Culture is organised by the Instituto de Estudos Medievais, NOVA-FCSH, Lisbon.