Pre-Professional Lawyers in Twelfth-Century Church Courts

in The Medieval Origins of the Legal Profession

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2008 | ISBN: 9780226077598
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226077611 | DOI:
Pre-Professional Lawyers in Twelfth-Century Church Courts

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  • Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)


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Canon lawyers during the “long twelfth century” gradually began to act more and more like professionals. By the mid-twelfth century clever and enterprising men could already make a living, often quite a comfortable one, from the teaching and practice of civil or canon law. The occupational skills that civilians and canonists possessed opened up opportunities for advancement in the church's hierarchy. One traditional characteristic of professional status is the belief that, unlike those who follow less prestigious trades and occupations, professionals undertake to observe special ethical rules more demanding than those that apply to non-professionals. As canon lawyers became more numerous and more visible in Western Christendom, both they and their detractors searched for acceptable answers to issues such as these. Critics of the jurists grew increasingly abundant and vocal as the twelfth century progressed. By the early decades of the thirteenth century, practitioners of canon law and civilians alike were under verbal assault from all sides. This chapter focuses on pre-professional lawyers in twelfth-century church courts.

Keywords: canon law; jurists; church courts; pre-professional lawyers; twelfth century; civilians; professional status; non-professionals

Chapter.  25348 words. 

Subjects: Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)

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