Sarah White – Research Update (ii)

I am continuing my work on procedure in practice, particularly in the records from the ecclesiastical courts of the late thirteenth century. The aim is to determine how procedure “one the ground” compared to procedure as outlined in the most popular treatises of the time (primarily Tancred’s Ordo and Durantis’ Speculum), and the extent to which these treatises were used by legal practitioners to gain knowledge of procedural law.

To this end, I am completing transcriptions of three unpublished English ordines, “Iudicium est trinus actus trium personarum,” “Abbas cuiusdam monasterii,” and “Iudicium est actus trium personarum,” each of which survives in only one manuscript witness (the first two in Oxford BL Selden Supra 87 and the third in Oxford St John’s College 178). There are some indications that “Iudicium est trinus actus trium personarum” is based on an earlier English ordo, mainly due to similarities in the gloss to the text. The examination of the place of these lesser-known texts in the tradition of English treatise-writing is the next stage of this research. Upon completion of these transcriptions, all the known ordines of English origin will be available either in print or, in the case of these transcriptions, online. “Iudicium est actus trium personarum” will be the first to be added to the project website.

I am also preparing an article on a case study of a tithes dispute between the rector and vicar of the same parish at the end of the thirteenth century, in which the parties produced extended arguments based in written law to support their claims. The presence of explicit citations in the case material suggests that litigants or their representation (and possibly judges) were turning to canon and civil law to resolve disputed points, even in relatively low-level case.