Following the collapse of the western Roman Empire, the Franks established in northern Gaul one of the most enduring of the Germanic barbarian kingdoms. They produced a legal code (which they called the Salic law) at approximately the same time that the Visigoths and Burgundians produced theirs, but the Frankish code is the least Romanized and most Germanic of the three. Unlike Roman law, this code does not emphasize marriage and the family, inheritance, gifts, and contracts; rather, Lex Salica is largely devoted to establishing fixed monetary or other penalties for a wide variety of damaging acts such as "killing women and children," "striking a man on the head so that the brain shows," or "skinning a dead horse without the consent of its owner." An important resource for students and scholars of medieval and legal history, made available once again in Katherine Fischer Drew's expert translation, the code contains much information on Frankish judicial procedure. Drew has here rendered into readable English the Pactus Legis Salicae, generally believed to have been issued by the Frankish King Clovis in the early sixth century and modified by his sons and grandson, Childbert I, Chlotar I, and Chilperic I. In addition, she provides a translation of the Lex Salica Karolina, the code as corrected and reissued some three centuries later by Charlemagne.
Women in Frankish Society is a careful and thorough study of women and their roles in the Merovingian and Carolingian periods of the Middle Ages. During the 5th through 9th centuries, Frankish society transformed from a relatively primitive tribal structure to a more complex hierarchical organization. Suzanne Fonay Wemple sets out to understand the forces at work in expanding and limiting women's sphere of activity and influence during this time. Her goal is to explain the gap between the ideals and laws on one hand and the social reality on the other. What effect did the administrative structures and social stratification in Merovingian society have on equality between the sexes? Did the emergence of the nuclear family and enforcement of monogamy in the Carolingian era enhance or erode the power and status of women? Wemple examines a wealth of primary sources, such deeds, testaments, formulae, genealogy, ecclesiastical and secular court records, letters, treatises, and poems in order to reveal the enduring German, Roman, and Christian cultural legacies in the Carolingian Empire. She attends to women in secular life and matters of law, economy, marriage, and inheritance, as well as chronicling the changes to women's experiences in religious life, from the waning influence of women in the Frankish church to the rise of female asceticism and monasticism.
Updates previous works with current scholarship in the fields of linguistics and social and legal history to present new editions and translations of these three Kentish pre-Alfredian laws, each situated within its historical, literary, and legal context.
"Gives the reader a portrayal of the social institutions of a Germanic people far richer and more exhaustive than any other available source."--from the Foreword, by Edward Peters From the bloody clashes of the third and fourth centuries there emerged a society that was neither Roman nor Burgundian, but a compound of both. The Burgundian Code offers historians and anthropologists alike illuminating insights into a crucial period of contact between a developed and a tribal society.
Presents a history of the family during the Middle Ages, covering the transition from Roman times, the impact of religion, the physical environment, and the family in the West, in the Byzantine Empire, in the Islamic World, and in the Jewish culture of the times.
Here presented for the first time in English are the law codes of the Lombard kings who ruled Italy from the sixth to the eighth centuries. The documents afford unparalleled insight into the structure and values of Germanic society.
This monumental study of medieval law and sexual conduct explores the origin and develpment of the Christian church's sex law and the systems of belief upon which that law rested. Focusing on the Church's own legal system of canon law, James A. Brundage offers a comprehensive history of legal doctrines–covering the millennium from A.D. 500 to 1500–concerning a wide variety of sexual behavior, including marital sex, adultery, homosexuality, concubinage, prostitution, masturbation, and incest. His survey makes strikingly clear how the system of sexual control in a world we have half-forgotten has shaped the world in which we live today. The regulation of marriage and divorce as we know it today, together with the outlawing of bigamy and polygamy and the imposition of criminal sanctions on such activities as sodomy, fellatio, cunnilingus, and bestiality, are all based in large measure upon ideas and beliefs about sexual morality that became law in Christian Europe in the Middle Ages. "Brundage's book is consistently learned, enormously useful, and frequently entertaining. It is the best we have on the relationships between theological norms, legal principles, and sexual practice."—Peter Iver Kaufman, Church History
Two major French medieval literary works that claim to teach their readers the art of love are virtually torn apart by the contradictions and conflicts they contain. In Andreas Capellanus's late twelfth-century Latin De amore, the author instructs his friend Walter in the amatory art in the first two books, but then harshly repudiates his own teachings and love itself in a third and final book. In Jean de Meun's encyclopedic continuation of the Romance of the Rose, written in French in the 1270s, a succession of allegorical figures alternately promote and excoriate the lover's amatory pursuits. Jean's romance, moreover, virtually rewrites the dream vision of Guillaume de Lorris, which it claims simply to extend, and ends with the depiction of a sexual act that seems to throw the book's whole structure into confusion. The more closely one reads these works, Peter Allen contends, the harder it is to understand them: "Didactic, heavy-handed, and problematic, they teach would-be lovers how to behave in order to have others accomplish their desires, yet they also contain vociferous passages that dissuade their protagonists from the practice of this art, which, they claim, leads not only to earthly destruction but also to eternal damnation." Readers from the Middle Ages to the present have been troubled by the fact that these texts are both radically self-contradictory and fundamentally at odds with the accepted morality of medieval Christian Europe. And for decades, scholars have tried to determine how these two works are related to what is often referred to as "courtly love." In The Art of Love, Allen persuasively argues that the De amore and the Romance of the Rose are central to the courtly tradition. Allen contends that their conflicts and contradictions are not signs of confusion or artistic failure, but are instead essential clues which show that the medieval works follow the disruptive structural model of Ovid's first-century elegiac Ars amatoria (Art of Love) and Remedia amoris (Cures for Love). Andreas's and Jean's works, no less than Ovid's, teach not the art of love for practicing lovers, but the literary art of love poetry and fiction. Based squarely on Ovid's poems, which were among the most widely read classical texts in medieval Europe, the De amore and the Romance of the Rose use the classical tradition in a particularly assertive fashion - and suggest a way for fantasies of love to exist even against a background of ecclesiastical prohibition.
Among the thirteenth-century saints exalted are female martyrs and hermits of early Christianity. In "The Lady as Saint," Brigitte Cazelles offers the first English translation of these lives and provides extensive commentary on the portrayal of female spirituality.
Including such remarkable accounts as Attila the Hun's meeting with the Pope, Queen Balthild's life, and Gregory of Tours' vivid descriptions of what happens when daily life is enmeshed with politics, From Roman to Merovingian Gaul documents events that are both remarkable in themselves and that demonstrate what made this era of history distinct.
How did medieval society deal with private justice, with grudges, and with violent emotions? This ground-breaking reader collects for the first time a number of unpublished or difficult-to-find texts that address violence and emotion in the Middle Ages. The sources collected here illustrate the power and reach of the language of vengeance in medieval European society. They span the early, high, and later middle ages, and capture a range of perspectives including legal sources, learned commentaries, narratives, and documents of practice. Though social elites necessarily figure prominently in all medieval sources, sources concerning relatively low-status individuals and sources pertaining to women are included. The sources range from saints' lives that illustrate the idea of vengeance to later medieval court records concerning vengeful practices. A secondary goal of the collection is to illustrate the prominence of mechanisms for peacemaking in medieval European society. The introduction traces recent scholarly developments in the study of vengeance and discusses the significance of these concepts for medieval political and social history.
During the Middle Ages, the Apocalypse, or Book of Revelation, was believed to contain both the grand design of sacred history and the disguised history of the Present and future. In The Apocalyptic Imagination in Medieval Literature, Richard K. Emmerson and Ronald B. Herzman explore die pervasiveness of apocalypticism in medieval literature through close readings of a group of major texts not generally considered from an apocalyptic perspective. Emmerson and Herzman present a new reading of Bonaventure's Major Life of Francis of Assisi, a key document in the Franciscan tradition. In their examination of the Romance of the Rose, they argue that allegorical romance takes a surprising turn toward contemporary social criticism, a criticism informed by a sophisticated and subtle use of the apocalyptic tradition. The authors also contend that while the apocalyptic language of the Divine Comedy is more obvious, its significance has not been systematically studied, and that The Canterbury Tales, all but ignored from an apocalyptic perspective, are infused with significant apocalyptic dimensions. The Apocalyptic Imagination in Medieval Literature offers a broad and comparative focus, and it should be of value not simply to students of medieval literature but to the broader audience of those interested in medieval intellectual history, art history, and religious history as well.
This pioneering study explores early medieval Frankish identity as a window into the formation of a distinct Western conception of ethnicity. Focusing on the turbulent and varied history of Frankish identity in Merovingian and Carolingian historiography, it offers a new basis for comparing the history of collective and ethnic identity in the Christian West with other contexts, especially the Islamic and Byzantine worlds. The tremendous political success of the Frankish kingdoms provided the medieval West with fundamental political, religious and social structures, including a change from the Roman perspective on ethnicity as the quality of the 'Other' to the Carolingian perception that a variety of Christian peoples were chosen by God to reign over the former Roman provinces. Interpreting identity as an open-ended process, Helmut Reimitz explores the role of Frankish identity in the multiple efforts through which societies tried to find order in the rapidly changing post-Roman world.

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