Medieval and Renaissance Ordinances of War: Codifying Discipline and Humanity

Theodor Meron

in War Crimes Law Comes of Age

Published in print January 1999 | ISBN: 9780198268567
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191683534 | DOI:
Medieval and Renaissance Ordinances of War: Codifying Discipline and Humanity

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Medieval ordinances of war were issued either by kings for the campaigns in which they happened to be engaged, or by commanders-in-chief in accordance with the authority granted to them in their commissions from their kings. The ordinances were not promulgated in a void. On many questions they restated the customary jus armorum, as transmitted orally between heralds and other experts, as described by such writers as Honore Bouvet, Giovanni da Legnano, and Christine de Pisan, and as applied by the courts. This chapter explores in detail the development – from the beginning of the 13th century until the death of Hugo Grotius (1645) – of those provisions of some ordinances of war which went beyond purely disciplinary or tactical matters, or such matters as the division of ransom and spoils of war. It focuses on the protective provisions of the ordinances, norms that articulated principles of humanity, and other rules that shaped the evolving law of war, leaving aside jurisdictional provisions. Not surprisingly, in later ordinances the balance shifted in some measure from discipline to humanity.

Keywords: medieval ordinances; protective provisions; humanity; war

Chapter.  5025 words. 

Subjects: Public International Law

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