Magna Carta Conference Offers New Insights Into The 800-year-old Document

British Library's Magna Carta, photo credit Joseph Turp

Magna Carta just celebrated its 800th birthday this past Monday. In honour of this incredible milestone, King’s College London, and the Magna Carta Project, hosted a 3 day conference dedicated to this historic document.

Bishops and Their Towns

City of Lucca, Italy. Image via Flickr by bongo vongo.

Another #KZOO2015 post – this one examines Bishops and Their Towns.

KZOO 2015: Session #42 – Magna Carta in Context

British Library's Magna Carta, photo credit Joseph Turp

This coming week I’ll be featuring summaries on some of my favourites sessions and papers from #KZOO2015. I kicked off my first session on Thursday with the Magna Carta.

Intersex in the Middle Ages

Statue of Hermaphrodite - Louvre

A brief look at how the medieval world viewed the Intersex individual.

Raymund’s Daughter’s Divorce in the 9th-Century: a Woman’s Textual Role in the Breaking of an Alliance

Marriage Medieval (Germany)

This chapter will analyse an aspect of one of the divorce cases of the mid 9th century: I review its links with politics of the day and reconsider the roles given to wife and husband in the only text that deals with this case…

Gender and Matrimonial Litigation in the Church Courts in the Later Middle Ages: The Evidence of the Court of York

Van Eyck - Arnolfini Marriage (1434)

If some later medieval males thought the courts were biased, what might the female perspective have been?

Monsters: An etymological and cultural reading of the ‘freak’ in the Middle Ages

cain and abel

That the medievals did not interpret ‘freaks’ as an insult to creation is the theme of this paper, showing that medieval thought on the disabled body was not as ‘backward’ as the Dark Ages school of popular historical perception teaches

Gratian’s Dilemma: The Man, the Prostitute, the Maid and the Infidel

Illumination from Gratian's Decretum - Royal Collection Trust

The 12th-century scholar Gratian offers us a fictitious case of a man who wants to marry a prostitute. It only gets crazier from there!

Emergency Baptisms in the Middle Ages

infant baptism - painting by Rogier van der Weyden (1399/1400–1464)

What to do if the priest might not arrive in time to carry out a baptism?

Intermarriage Between Christians and Jews in Medieval Canon Law

The Law’s Violence against Medieval and Early Modern Jews

Restrictions on contact between Christians and Jews appeared early in Christian history and remained a prominent feature of ecclesiastical law throughout the Middle Ages.

John of Freiburg and the Usury Prohibition in the Late Middle Ages: A Study in the Popularization of Medieval Canon Law

Summa Confessorum - John of Freiburg

In this dissertation I provide an edition of the treatise on usury (De usuris, bk. 2, tit. 7) contained in the Dominican friar John of Freiburg’s (d. 1314) Summa confessorum (ca. 1298) – a comprehensive encyclopedia of pastoral care that John wrote for the benefit of his fellow friar preachers and all others charged with the cure of souls.

Double sex, double pleasure? Hermaphrodites and the medieval laws


I think the question of how the medieval laws dealt with ambivalent bodies deserves some attention in own right. The more general question is: how did medieval societies deal with experiences that challenged accepted views of what was normal?

Absoluimus uos uice beati petri apostolorum principis. Episcopal authority and the reconciliation of excommunicants in England and Frankia c. 900-c.1050

Medieval bishop

No mention is made of any rite being followed by Bishop Wulfstan on this occasion, but services for the reconciliation of excommunication are first recorded in the tenth and eleventh centuries.

Inquiring into Adultery and Other Wicked Deeds: Episcopal Justice in Tenth- and Early Eleventh-Century Italy

Sex medieval

This article suggests that Italian bishops often had recourse to spiritual penalties to exercise their coercive authority over serious offences during the tenth and early eleventh centuries.

Picturing Gregory: The Evolving Imagery of Canon Law

Gregory IX Decretals

This paper surveys images created for the opening of the Liber extra between around 1240 and 1350, from a variety of standpoints: iconography, page layout, patrons and readers – and also suggests possible ideological agendas that might be embedded in the illustrations.

Hincmar of Reims on King-making: The Evidence of the Annals of St. Bertin, 861–882

Saint Bertin

The Histories and Chronicles Hincmar had in mind were presumably Frankish ones; and Lothar II, succeeding his father, thus clearly came into this section of Hincmar’s third category. But of the timing or form of Lothar’s becoming king, Hincmar said not a word, preferring, instead, to spell out the Biblical lesson that a bad king (and he hastily disclaimed any allegation that Lothar’s father had been a bad king) would see the succession depart from his line.

The Church in Fourteenth-Century Iceland: Ecclesiastical Administration, Literacy, and the Formation of an Elite Clerical Identity

Medieval Iceland

In what follows, therefore, I provide a detailed study of Icelandic clergy and the institutions of the Icelandic Church in the period from 1300 to 1404.

The Law’s Violence against Medieval and Early Modern Jews

The Law’s Violence against Medieval and Early Modern Jews

Ken Pennington examines the issue of forced baptism of Jewish children in the legal literature from the Middle Ages to the early modern period.

Bernard Ayglier and William of Pagula: Two Approaches To Monastic Law

Medieval Monks

The paper examines the role of canon law in two monastic works, the Speculum monachorum (SM) (1272×74) of Bernard Ayglier (d.1282), abbot of Montecassino, and the Speculum religiosorum (SR) (c.1322) of William of Pagula, a canonist and secular priest (d.1332)

Tolerance of Usury

The usurers, Marinus van Reymerswaele (1490 - 1567) - medieval usury

In the Middle Ages, could usury be tolerated in the law?

Muslims in canon law, 650-1000

Christian–Muslim Relations

Christians first encountered Muslims as invaders. Bishops convened in Constantinople by Justinian II at the Council in Trullo of 692 respond to these ‘barbarian invasions’ in several canons.

Qui coierit cum muliere in fluxu menstruo… interficientur ambo (Lev. 20:18) – The Biblical Prohibition of Sexual Relations with a Menstruant in the Eyes of Some Medieval Christian Theologians

Shoshannat Yaakov

What attitudes did medieval Christian theologians have towards the prohibition in Leviticus of sexual relations with a menstruating woman?

Marriage Impediments in Canon Law and Practice: Consanguinity Regulations and the Case of Orthodox-Catholic Intermarriage in Kyivan Rus’, ca. 1000–1241

Medieval Marriage

This paper focused on marriage alliances in Eastern Europe and the issue of canon law and consanguinity.

Unity and Diversity in Early Medieval Canonical Collections

Medieval Monks

This paper details differences and similarities in canon law sources in different regions.

Gratian, ‘Father of Canon Law’, was a bishop, historian finds


New research has uncovered that Gratian, a famous 12th-century lawyer who compiled the canon law text known as Decretum Gratiani, became the Bishop of Chiusi and died on August 10th in 1144 or 1145, according to paper delivered today at the 14th International Congress of Medieval Canon Law.

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