The fusion of canon and Roman law provided the cornerstone of the education of would-be administrators in papal, royal, and municipal employment in the later Middle Ages. Thus while the law applied in actual cases was local, the principles on which it was built and the minds of those who applied it had been shaped by the ius commune. As Manlio Bellomo has shown, that is, law exercised subtle yet durable influences that fostered the cultural unity of Christendom. Recently published and/or reprinted works have provided the non-initiated with a wealth of introductory literature that demands not only attentiveness to law, and particularly to canon law, but also an understanding of the intricacies of its operation. Simultaneously, digital reproductions have drastically altered the once laborious process of taking notes from legal texts. And yet, the connection between law and social realities remains an underexplored field of study in spite of groundbreaking contributions made by a diverse body of scholars over the last thirty years. For example, that law matters only if its letter is vigorously enforced remains a common assumption while entire fields of inquiry, such the relations between Catholics and non-Catholics, remain either strictly confined within the field of canon law or, conversely, pay little heed to the law of the Church.
This ACMRS-sponsored session invites papers that help integrate legal studies and social history. For example, papers that expose the intricate interplay between the codification of principles and the contingencies of their translation into practical action, that explore changes in the meanings of individual laws, or the relationships between individual laws and legal discourses. Equally welcome are papers that make methodological contributions to the study of medieval law and such that explore comparative perspectives and/or the uses of law in medieval worlds other than Latin Christendom. Please send a 250-word abstract and a 2-page CV to firstname.lastname@example.org by April 30 (subject line: MAA 2013 Law). Promising abstracts that fit with one another will be grouped in one or two sessions that will be proposed to the MAA on or before May 15.