Philippa Byrne
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Love your enemies?
Popular mercy in a vengeance culture
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This chapter examines how twelfth-century arguments over justice and mercy, previously discussed in the context of Latin texts, extended into the vernacular, and speculates about the possibility of a ‘popular’ engagement with ideas about merciful judgment. The centre of the analysis is the tradition known as the Four Daughters of God (found in a number of sermons and in Robert Grosseteste’s Château d’amour), a work which presents an argument between justice and mercy set in the household of a great lord. The chapter draws on these texts to suggest that ideas of judgment, justice and mercy might have been disseminated more widely than we would otherwise assume, and that there was an audience for such debates beyond Anglo-Norman and Angevin administrators. Texts such as these might invite us to modify our view of twelfth-century England as a ‘vengeance culture’. Finally, the chapter reflects on what these texts suggest about the connections between counsel and persuasion in judgment.

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Justice and mercy

Moral theology and the exercise of law in twelfth-century England


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