The Watcher Cat

The Watcher Cat

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Laws and Customs

One thing that I've become interested in, very much for its own sake, but also because of its surprisingly strong modern legacy, is medieval law. In my forthcoming article, I'm writing about the effect of the struggle over clerical immunity from secular jurisdiction on the sex abuse crisis in the Catholic Church, but the research opened up whole new vistas of areas as to which I am stone ignorant, but which effect the law in secular society and the church alike. Meeting Henry II again, and Becket, led me to meet Glanville, and now Bracton. Bracton develops the story Glanville begins, and traces it further in time and breadth. I think the relationship between law and custom, in particular, is a particularly lively source of light and heat both; think of how Henry's effort to concretize custom into law, the Constitutions of Clarendon, became a flashpoint in the Becket dispute. By trying to resolve the ambiguities, Henry forced Becket to open conflict; by seeking to exploit them, Becket forced the king to demand clarity.

In all, an interesting study...

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