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New Medieval Books: Corruption, Protection and Justice in Medieval Europe

Corruption, Protection and Justice in Medieval Europe: A Thousand-Year History

By Jonathan R. Lyon

Cambridge University Press
ISBN: 978-1-316-51374-3

Covering from the years 750 to 1800, this book examines the role of ‘Advocate’ – the people who work in the legal and justice systems in medieval Europe. It’s very much a tale of those seeking justice and how power and corruption played a very big role in their outcomes.


This book argues that during a millennium of European history, from roughly 750 to 1800 CE, a lot of folks were wrassling round. If this phrase seems to lack scholarly precision, that is exactly why I find it useful. I employ it here as a synonym for a set of practices that historians have commonly labeled with such terms as feudalism, lordship, government, officeholding, bureaucracy and state-building. In more traditional academic phrasing, my argument is this: For centuries, members of ruling elites – from emperors and kings to petty aristocrats and urban oligarchs – competed to profit from other people’s property inhabitants by providing protection and exercising justice; whether we call them violent feudal lords or accountable state officials, they employed a set of coercive strategies that proved to be remarkably consistent across 1,000 years of European history.


Who is this book for?

This is a deep academic book aimed at specialists in medieval history, in particular those interested in politics and the exercise of power. Much of this work focuses on medieval Germany, so if this is an area you research, you will likely want to read and consider the ideas presented here.

The author:

Jonathan R. Lyon is a Professor of History at the University of Chicago, and has already been lauded for his books and articles on Germany and the Holy Roman Empire in the Middle Ages. Click here to view his university profile.


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