Resolving disputes
"Arbitration, mediation, and third- party intervention"
in International law in Europe, 700–1200
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"This chapter investigates how medieval entities and rulers resolved disputed questions of fact and law through one particular method: arbitration. It was, and continues to be, one of the most common ways to resolve conflict, secure peace and deter future violence. Its frequent and sustained use as a method to settle disputes at lower levels of society during the whole of the medieval period and across most geographical areas has often been acknowledged by scholars, but, in an international context, it has been seen primarily as a late-medieval phenomenon, involving the papacy or merchant towns, e.g., those of the Hanseatic League.

The chapter argues that in the period before 1200, arbitration was a relatively rare method for determining disputes between rulers, yet it was one that had a clear process with specific terminology, procedure, and expectations. More commonly, the evidence show that parties used arbitration panels, drawing an equal number of men from each side, to discuss, determine, and decide disputes over individual stipulations in treaties. This chapter hence demonstrates the involvement of both individuals and communities in conflict resolution, their authority and ability to make decisions on matters in dispute, and how they encouraged, coerced, or reinforced obligations and responsibilities agreed in treaties. In short, there were well-developed strategies for resolving international disputes, employing judicial institutions that were widely used and known to all parties.


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