Medieval Law

Medieval Legal History This text is about the history of the Medieval Law. Canon Law This includes: General Ecumenical and General Church Councils Other Canon Law Texts: Specific Canons and Papal Decrees The Rebirth of Canon Law Studies: 11th Century On Later Medieval Canon Law Inquisitorial Methods Monastic Rules Theory of Law Germanic Law This … Read more

Councils of Constance

Councils of Constance Councils of Constance in Later Medieval Canon Law Note: for information on the Later Medieval Canon Law, please see here. This entry covers the following: Council of Constance: Decree Sacrosancta, 1415 Council of Constance: Deposition of John XXIII, 1415 Council of Constance: Decree Frequens, 1415 Council of Constance: List of Abuses, 1417 … Read more

Doctrine of Papal Primacy

Doctrine of Papal Primacy For contextual information, see the entry on Later Medieval Canon Law in this encyclopedia. Boniface VIII, Unam Sanctam, 1302 The Bull ‘Unam Sanctam’, in which Pope Boniface VIII asserted his rights against King Phillip the Fair of France, is a landmark in the history of the doctrine of Papal Primacy. Text … Read more

Later Medieval Canon Law

Later Medieval Canon Law The Fourth Lateran Council The Fourth Lateran Council, called by Innocent III, was the most important of the Western Medieval general councils. It addressed a wide range of issues in a series of canons. One of the important canons for law was CANON 42, which reads: “SUMMARY No cleric may so … Read more

Rebirth of Canon Law Studies

Rebirth of Canon Law Studies Rebirth of Canon Law Studies: 11th Century On Domus Gratiani: Gratian Studies Gratian was a 12th-century Benedictine monk and canon lawyer from Bologna. Little is known about him beyond the fact that he compiled and wrote this collection of legal texts, which became the code of canon law used in … Read more

Medieval Bulgars

Medieval Bulgars Pope Nicholas I: Responses to the Questions of the Bulgars A.D. 866 (Letter 99) Note: previous chapters are available here, here and also here. Chapter LV. Now then, as for your assertion that the Greeks forbid you to receive communion without belts, we have no idea with what witnesses from sacred Scripture they … Read more


Bulgars Since the sixth century, the Bulgars had known intermittent contact with the Christians of the surrounding nations, whether as merchants or prisoners-of-war or through diplomatic relations. During the later eighth and early ninth century, the Christian population in Bulgar lands increased so much that Christians were rumored to have influence at the court of … Read more

Papal Decrees

Papal Decrees Gelasius: On the Two Powers Gelasius I on Spiritual and Temporal Power, 494 Letter of Pope Gelasius to Emperor Anastasius on the superiority of the spiritual over temporal power: The pope’s view of the natural superiority of the spiriitual over the temporal power finds a clear expression the following remarkable letter of Gelasius … Read more

Medieval Bulgar Controversy

Medieval Bulgar Controversy Pope Nicholas I: Responses to the Questions of the Bulgars A.D. 866 (Letter 99) Note: previous chapters are available here, here, here and also here. Chapter LXXV. The bishops whom we have sent to your country are bringing with them in writing the judgment of penance[25] that you requested, and of course … Read more

Ecumenical Councils

Ecumenical Councils Ecumenical and General Church Councils Note: this is a useful, if denominationally partisan, article from the Catholic Encyclopedia. Councils are legally convened assemblies of ecclesiastical dignitaries and theological experts for the purpose of discussing and regulating matters of church doctrine and discipline. The terms council and synod are synonymous, although in the oldest … Read more

Liber Extra

Liber Extra, Decretalists Decretalium Gregorii papae IX: Bulla «Rex pacificus» L i b e r I Titulus I De summa trinitate et fide catholica. Titulus II De constitutionibus. Titulus III De rescriptis. Titulus IV De consuetudine. Titulus V De postulatione praelatorum. Titulus VI De electione et electi potestate. Titulus VII De translatione episcopi. Titulus VIII … Read more

Bolognese Jurisprudence

Bolognese Jurisprudence The challenged church answered with Gratian’s Decretum (circ. 1139) and the Decretals of Gregory IX. (1234). The canonist emulated the civilian and for a long while maintained in the field of jurisprudence what seemed to be an equal combat. Unequal it was in truth. The Decretum is sad stuff when set beside the … Read more

Carolingian Canon Law

Carolingian Canon Law Collectio Dionysio-Hadriana (774) Some resources include: Cochlaeus (Johannes Wendelstinus), Dionysio-Hadriana. Mainz, 1525. Hosted by the University of Kentucky. Collectio Dacheriana (ca. 800) Some resources include: Jean-Luc D’Achery, ed. Spicilegium sive collectio veterum aliquot scriptorum qui in Galliae Bibliothecis delituerant. Paris, 1723. Hosted by Codices Electronici Ecclesiae Coloniensis, University of Cologne. False Capitularies … Read more

French Code

French Code in Europe Influence of the French Code de Procédure Civile (1806) in 19th Century Europe Introduction The number of European jurisdictions where Napoleon’s Code de procédure civile (1806) left its mark, either directly or indirectly, is vast. According to R.C. van Caenegem, […]

Pavian Law-school

The Pavian Law-school Italy was to be for a while the focus of the whole world’s legal history. For one thing, the thread of legislation was never quite broken there. Capitularies or statutes which enact territorial law came from Karolingian emperors and from Karolingian kings of Italy,The Pavian law-school. and then from the Ottos and … Read more


Aediles in Europe In accordance to the Cambridge Dictionary of Classical Civilization: Originally (494 BC), two PLEBEIAN MAGISTRATES in charge of the TEMPLE (aedis) where ARCHIVES recording concessions made by PATRICIANS were kept. By the time plebeians had access to the highest […]

Roman Law of Divorce

Roman Law of Divorce in Europe The Roman Law of Divorce before Justinian The history of divorce, therefore, practically begins with the law of Rome. It took its earliest colour from that conception of the patria potestas, or the power of the head of the family over its members, which enters […]

Lex Mercatoria

Lex Mercatoria in Europe Definition of Lex Mercatoria The law merchant (q.v.) History LAW MERCHANT or Lex mercatoria, originally a body of rules and principles relating to merchants and mercantile transactions, laid down by merchants themselves for the purpose of regulating their dealings. […]

Canon Law Registers

Canon Law Registers Some Resources Regesta pontificum romanorum, ed. August Potthast. Regesta pontificum romanorum. Edited by August Potthast. Volume 1. Berlin: Rudolf de Decker, 1874. Reprint Graz: Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt, 1957. Regesta pontificum romanorum, ed. Philip Jaffe. Regesta pontificum romanorum. Edited by Philip Jaffe. Leipzig: Veit, 1885-1888. Reprint Graz: Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt, 1956. … Read more


Plebeians PLEBEIANS, plẹ-bē’ạnz (Plebs), an order of the Roman people, corresponding to the English Commons. The time at which the Plebeians were recognized as a distinct order in the state is not known; they were at first excluded from almost every right of citizenship. They differed from […]


Inquisition in Europe The Inquisition was a tribunal or system of tribunals instituted by the Roman Catholic Church for the discovery, examination and conviction of heretics and their punishment by the secular arm. Under the successors of Constantine in the Roman Empire the repression of […]


Dueling in Europe Dueling or Duel (from duellum, derived from duo) is a combat between two, at a time and place appointed in consequence of a challenge, and so is distinguished from an encounter taking place without any previous arrangement. The custom of dueling was derived from the […]


Definition of Canon A rule of the canon law, or ecclesiastical law. It is sometimes used as meaning a rule of the ordinary law, e.g., the canons of descent Browse You might be interested in these references tools: ResourceDescription Canon in the Dictionaries, Canon in our legal dictionaries, […]

List of Legal History Broader Databases

List of Legal History Broader Databases in Europe The following databases are comprehensive, covering a wide selection of time periods, and can be a starting point for a more specific database. Primary Sources Databases These databases provide access to full-text materials from the Middle […]

Bouvier´s Law Dictionary and Institutes of American Law

Bouvier´s Law Dictionary and Institutes of American Law in Europe Review of Bouvier´s Law Dictionary and Institutes of American Law This review was written in North American Review (July, 1861) by S. Austin Allibone, author of the Dictionary of Authors The author of these volumes taught […]

Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England

Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England in Europe Introduction • Section the First : On the Study of Law • Section the Second : Of the Nature of Laws in General • Section the Third : Of the Laws of England • Section the Fourth : Of the Countries Subject to the Laws of England […]