Religious and Secular Legal Cultures of the European Middle Ages

Research Field

The history of law in the Middle Ages is not only key to understanding the development of modern law in – and partly also beyond – Europe. It can also contribute valuable insights into the origins and possible forms of legal normativity by providing case studies of the complex interaction of law with other cultural aspects/factors, and due to the close connection between law and religion. Such connections are particularly apparent in the interrelatedness of secular/temporal and ecclesiastical law, and in the synthesis of Christian and profane/secular normative ideas during the Middle Ages. These and other facets of medieval legal and normative cultures emerge particularly clearly in the context of the ever-present tensions between claims to particularity and universality, respectively.

Within the Research Field, individual projects study topics spanning the period from Late Antiquity to the High Middle Ages. These examine not only the areas of the former Western Roman Empire but also Byzantine canon law from the seventh to the ninth centuries, particularly in the context of imperial ideology. The Research Field has obvious points of fruitful overlap with projects in other Research Fields of Departments Stefan Vogenauer and Thomas Duve. As global legal history is shaped both by multinormativity and by constant interplay between secular and normative ideas of order.

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