IMC Leeds 7-10 Jul 2014
From the twelfth century on, public courts and the institutionalized legal process obtained a prominent profile in many parts of Europe. Legal authorities and litigants increasingly strove to record and thus shape the legal process through documenting their activities. The sources they produced, grouped together under the term ‘court records’, form a true goldmine for historians. They throw light on historical events and processes that are otherwise difficult if not impossible to access, from legal procedures to daily life and language, to cosmology. Small wonder that some of the most important works on premodern history, like Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie’s Montaillou and Carlo Ginzburg’s The Cheese and the Worms, have drawn extensively on this type of source.
Yet these sources are not without difficulties for the historian using them. Not only are they often relatively hard to access, requiring extensive palaeographical and linguistic skills, but the information contained in them is seldom straightforward. Court records often purport to contain more than they do, and usually contain more than they seem to do. They are not only very rich but also very challenging sources.
That is why we think it valuable to make this historical source, the court record, the focus of a strand of sessions at the twentieth International Medieval Congress in Leeds from 7-10 July 2014. We hope to gather scholars from different regions to compare and discuss the great variety of records produced by law courts in the later medieval period, as well as the practical and methodological issues connected to their study. The idea of this IMC strand is to form a basis for further discussion and cooperation between early career researchers working with late medieval court records in the future.
We therefore invite proposals from current postgraduate, postdoctoral and other early career researchers in History and any other relevant subject area, for papers of 20 minutes on the topic of late medieval court records. Abstracts must be 200 words maximum. The proposals must include name, institution, contact information, paper title and abstract.
Possible topics for papers include but are not limited to:
• Methodology of court records
• Gendering court records
• Court records and the legal process
• Court records and urban society
• The voice of the ‘common man’ in court records
• Court records and social/religious deviancy
• The comparative approach of court records
• Court records and legal/social/political conflict
Proposals are to be sent to Frans Camphuijsen by September 22nd 2013.
Panel convenors: Sarah Crawford (University of Sydney), James Page (University of St. Andrews) and Frans Camphuijsen (University of Amsterdam)