On 18 June, several CLCLCL members participated in a half-day workshop arising from British Academy funded project, ‘Medieval Legal Jurisdictions: Jurisdiction, Legal Community, and Political Discourse in Medieval Europe, 1050–1250’, on which Matt McHaffie is a co-investigator. This workshop addressed the question of historiography, and looked at how different national and legal traditions have informed the ways in which questions of law and jurisdiction are framed in different parts of medieval Europe. Dr Sarah White provided an overview of some of the major directions in canon law research; Professor John Hudson offered wide-ranging reflections on how to write the history of law in England (as opposed to the history of English law); and Professor Caroline Humfress provided wider theoretical commentary with her characteristic insight and acuity. One of the recurring points of discussion centred on how political concerns, past and present, exercised a tremendous influence on the formation and direction of various historiographical traditions. Although such an observation on its own is hardly surprising, the workshop participants reflected on the types of political concern shaping present-day approaches. A key suggestion that will be developed further by the ‘Jurisdictions’ project concerns the writing of medieval legal history in a post-national mould.
- by William Eves