HIST 412 Law, Power, and Violence in the Middle Ages


Many of the terms and concepts of modern legal systems can be traced back to the Middle Ages. Yet these origins are far from simple. People in medieval Europe and the Middle East navigated between multiple legal systems and norms, which could include Roman law; canon or Church law; the ordinances and laws passed by kings, counts, and city councils; the multiple schools of Islamic law; and the diverse local interpretations of Jewish law. Medieval people used courts, contracts, and other legal institutions frequently as they grappled with how their intersectional identities shaped their legal status: gender, religion, and social status determined what courts a person could access, what laws applied to them, and how they were perceived by legal professionals. Students will explore the complex relationship between law, power, and violence across the medieval world, with particular emphasis on gender, sexuality, and religious identity.

Prerequisite: sophomore standing