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Canterbury Court Records

The St Andrews Institute of Legal and Constitutional Research has created an image database hosted by the University of St Andrews Library in collaboration with the Canterbury Cathedral Archives. The aim of this project is to bring primary sources to the forefront and to help facilitate access to manuscript sources.

The database is available here:

We also hope to facilitate further work on the interaction between secular and ecclesiastical jurisdiction, and the changes which occurred over the thirteenth century. This jurisdictional interaction can be seen in particular in the cases concerning bastardy and inheritance, wills and testaments, violence against clerks, oaths, and excommunication, all of which were part of ecclesiastical jurisdiction, but were particular areas of cooperation and conflict with the secular courts. It is also hoped that the material will provide the background for another ‘Talking Law’ project, based on the trial of Thomas Becket.

The Court of Canterbury was one of the two highest appeals courts in England (the other was York) and it was presided over in name by the archbishop of Canterbury or, when there was no archbishop, by the prior and chapter of Christ Church Canterbury. Both the archbishop and the prior and chapter would frequently appoint an official to preside over the Court in their place.

The database includes a large portion of the thirteenth-century court records from Canterbury and will assist researchers working on canon law, administration, manuscript studies, and many other topics.

For more information contact Sarah White: [email protected]