Attilio Stella – Research Update (i)

Twelfth-century Italy has rightfully been considered the cradle of the renaissance of the learned law in Europe. The absorption into the system of Civil law of feudal norms and procedures contained in the Lombard customary law book called Libri Feudorum is a paramount example of the relationship between the renaissance of Roman law and contextual bodies of norms used in court. The principal focus of my latest efforts is thus to look for examples of how the practice of courts shaped the legal notions and arguments developed by the glossators dealing with the feudal laws in the first century of the ius commune.

The research I am currently conducting rests on my studies on the codification of the Libri Feudorum, on the possible trajectories from social and court practice to the law book, and on the use of the feudal law code in different contexts of North Italy and France. Challenging some traditional views which tend to see academic lawyers as isolated from their social backgrounds, I carried on with further analyses of twelfth- and thirteenth-century summae and quaestiones dealing with fiefs, comparing them with archival evidence and eventually restoring social and judicial practice as a shaping force of the scholarly writings of the glossators.

As a research fellow in this project, I am currently scrutinising the writings of André Gouron, the leading scholar in legal history in South France, to apply his methods to a series of twelfth-century miscellaneous codices and examine the principles lying behind the selection of these compilations.

The first manuscript I am going to analyse is MS Berlin SBPK Lat. Fol. 462, probably composed in Milan by a canon of S. Ambrogio in the second half of the century, bought towards 1200 by the Milanese judge and consul Passaguerra and eventually pawned to a municipal officer. In the next blog post I will present some updates on the manuscript and its content.