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.
"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.
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.
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.
“What McKitterick calls the 'explosion of historical writing' in the Carolingian age marked the dawn of a radically new and lasting culture in Europe and disclosed the mind-sets of its creators. Yet, in many cases, published editions deform the texts, not least by omissions, and obscure what Frankish authors actually wrote. Building on her internationally acclaimed studies of oral and written communication in the early Middle Ages, McKitterick goes back to manuscript sources. As she advances a compelling new key to the catalysts of Europe's historical identity, she discovers what Carolingians actually wrote and how they did their work.” —Karl F. Morrison, Lessing Professor of History and Poetics, Rutgers University “As perceptive as it is learned, Rosamond McKitterick's book unpicks the complex web of Frankish perceptions of the past. . . . McKitterick deftly transforms texts that previous scholars have usually dismissed into clues from which she draws cogent arguments. This study of historical imaginations in the past is itself a model of imaginative history.” —Anthony Grafton, Princeton University Historical writing of the early middle ages tends to be regarded as little more than a possible source of facts, but Rosamond McKitterick establishes that early medieval historians conveyed in their texts a sophisticated set of multiple perceptions of the past. In these essays, McKitterick focuses on the Frankish realms in the eighth and ninth centuries and examines different methods and genres of historical writing in relation to the perceptions of time and chronology. She claims that there is an extraordinary concentration of new text production and older text reproduction in this period that has to be accounted for, and whose influence is still being investigated and established. Three themes are addressed in Perceptions of the Past in the Early Middle Ages. McKitterick begins by discussing the Chronicon of Eusebius-Jerome as a way of examining the composition and reception of universal history in the ninth and early tenth centuries. She demonstrates that original manuscripts turn out in many cases to be compilations of sequential historical texts with a chronology extending back to the creation of the world or the origin of the Franks. In the second chapter, she explores the significance of Rome in Carolingian perceptions of the past and argues that its importance loomed large and was communicated in a great range of texts and material objects. In the third chapter, she looks at eighth- and ninth-century perceptions of the local past in the Frankish realm within the wider contexts of Christian and national history. She concludes that in the very rich, complex, and sometimes contradictory early medieval perceptions of a past stretching back to the creation of the world, the Franks in the Carolingian period forged their own special place.