Later Medieval Law in Community Context

Marie Kelleher

in The Oxford Handbook of Women and Gender in Medieval Europe

Published in print August 2013 | ISBN: 9780199582174
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191749919 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in History

Later Medieval Law in Community Context

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  • Gender and Sexuality
  • Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)


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During the central and late Middle Ages, European lawmakers and jurists began to make intensive use of the principles of both Roman and canon law in their legislation and court decisions. Embedded in these legal principles were ideas about gender that would have a profound effect on litigation involving women. The substantive law that emerged during this legal renaissance helped to define women's place in medieval society, but equally important were the new law's procedural rules, which allowed reputation to be taken into account in legal proceedings, thereby rendering women's self-representation critical in determining the outcomes of their court cases. An examination the interaction of learned law and community knowledge encourages us to see medieval women as active participants in their own fates, as well as in a major shift in legal culture that would shape European women's legal status more generally.

Keywords: gender; law; women; Middle Ages; ius commune; reputation

Article.  7495 words. 

Subjects: Gender and Sexuality ; Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)

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