Browse

You are looking at 41 - 50 of 110 items for :

  • Manchester Religious Studies x
  • Manchester Medieval Studies x
  • Refine by access: All content x
Clear All
Abstract only
Philippa Byrne

This chapter introduces the central argument of the book: that one of the most important and most vexed questions in theological, legal and political discussions in twelfth-century England was how to reconcile the conflicting principles of justice and mercy, and how to judge ‘correctly’ – avoiding charges of partiality, corruption or vice. The significance of these discussions, however, has gone unrealised because of the assumptions brought by modern scholars to the relationship between medieval theology and medieval law. This chapter provides a historiographical overview of the ways in which medieval justice has been discussed. It then moves to analyse the biographies of several twelfth-century English judges, arguing that they were more than merely royal functionaries and were sensitive to moral arguments and reflected on their position, especially when it came to matters of virtue and punishment.

in Justice and mercy
The Church
Philippa Byrne

This chapter develops the argument – outlined previously in Chapter 5 – that arguments over the status and importance of mercy were as central in ecclesiastical politics as they were in secular courts, and that bishops were engaged in a discussion over the relative merits of merciful or punitive justice. It examines three case studies to highlight these discussions. First, arguments over whether a group of heretics discovered in Worcester in the 1160s should be treated with leniency or severity, and which attitude would best bring them back to the Church. Secondly, how the language of mercy and justice was deployed by both sides during the Becket crisis, and how those events can be interpreted as set of arguments over how best to rebuke, reprimand and punish a king. Finally, the chapter moves to the thirteenth century to examine how Robert Grosseteste and Adam Marsh provided practical advice for office-holders – both within and outside the Church – on how to translate scriptural ideas about justice and mercy into action.

in Justice and mercy
Abstract only
Moral theology and the exercise of law in twelfth-century England
Series: Artes Liberales
Author: Philippa Byrne

This book addresses one of the most acute moral and political dilemmas of the twelfth century: how did a judge determine how to punish an offender, and what was the purpose of such punishment? It examines how English judges weighed a choice which, if made wrongly, could endanger both the political community and their own souls. That choice was between two ideas which twelfth-century intellectual and legal thought understood as irreconcilable opposites: justice and mercy. By examining the moral pressures on English judges, Justice and Mercy provides a new way into medieval legal culture: rather than looking at the laws that judges applied, it reconstructs the moral world of the judges themselves. The book offers a fresh synthesis of the disciplines of intellectual history and legal history, examining theological commentaries, moral treatises, letters, sermons and chronicles in order to put the creation of the English common law into its moral context. This broad vision brings to light the shared language of justice and mercy, an idea which dominated twelfth-century discourse and had the potential to polarise political opinion. Justice and Mercy challenges many of the prevailing narratives surrounding the common law, suggesting that judges in church courts and royal courts looked strikingly similar, and that English judges had more in common with their continental counterparts than is often assumed.

Abstract only
Popular mercy in a vengeance culture
Philippa Byrne

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.

in Justice and mercy
The courts
Philippa Byrne

The chapter begins with a comparison of how mercy was discussed in the early common law and in twelfth-century canon law, and suggests what one legal tradition might reveal about the other. It examines in full the discussions of mercy in common law texts (including the Leges Henrici Primi and Glanvill), as well as the historical evidence for legal mercy found in reported cases and pardon records. The chapter argues that there was more space for the exercise of judicial mercy in the common law than is sometimes assumed, and that exhortations to mercy were more than window dressing. However, in order to understand what mercy meant to English judges, medievalists need to go beyond the traditional documentary sources for the history of the common law. The chapter concludes by emphasising that the role of the judge and the complexity of the judge’s moral role should not be overlooked in the history of the early common law.

in Justice and mercy
The schools
Philippa Byrne

This chapter provides a detailed analysis of the multiple ways in which the twelfth-century schools attempted to define justice, examining the influence of Aristotle, St Paul, Cicero, Augustine and Anselm. It identifies a central focus of scholastic debates: how to reconcile justice and mercy; whether to privilege forgiveness for offenders or punish offenders in full. These questions invited masters to dwell on how obligations to punish could ever be reconciled with the demands of Christian caritas. The chapter sets out the central problem for twelfth-century judges and what was at stake in judgment: the merciless judge would receive no mercy from God. The chapter reveals the complexity of the debate in the schools, where theologians recognised that any attempt to explain justice had both immediate political and long-term soteriological dimensions. Finally, it highlights how all these discussions emphasised the practicalities of justice, and the connection between theological discussion and political praxis.

in Justice and mercy
Philippa Byrne

This chapter argues that the key to understanding judgment in this period is to examine the evidence of exempla. Exempla and the exemplary tradition provided models which helped twelfth-century judges to think through the act of judgment, realise what was at stake and identify common mistakes – including historical and scriptural cases where bad judgment had led to the destruction of the whole polity. The chapter examines scriptural examples of great and failed judges (figures such as Moses, Samuel and Heli), as well as exemplary judges from classical history (such as Caesar and Cato). The exemplary figures introduced here were the building blocks of more detailed and more developed arguments about judgment, and the figures introduced here recur in later chapters. Finally, the chapter argues that there was no clear distinction between the exempla taken from the Bible and those from classical texts. In both traditions one could find arguments in favour of strict justice and arguments in favour of judicial mercy. What mattered was not the texts a judge read, but the principles of selection applied to that reading.

in Justice and mercy
Philippa Byrne

This chapter examines how advice to be merciful was interpreted, and how seriously injunctions to be merciful were treated. It argues, in particular, that those demands were not seen as counsels limited or addressed merely to the perfect, but were precepts binding on all Christians and a core part of how Christian identity was constructed. Mercy was understood as a duty essential to Christian life, according to interpretations of the meaning of baptism and commentaries on the Sermon on the Mount. The chapter emphasises this point through close analysis of the language of commentaries and the language of sermons. The chapter similarly challenges historiographical assumptions that there was a sharp distinction between a punitive secular authority and a merciful spiritual authority. Both kings and bishops were expected to wrestle with the question of how to set punishment and the chapter argues that we can recognise striking parallels between royal and ecclesiastical judgment.

in Justice and mercy
Open Access (free)
The literature of pietists (Ashkenazic hasidim)
Simha Goldin

This chapter examine this particular mystic group and its special literary origins and the question of its attitude to those who converted to Christianity

in Apostasy and Jewish identity in High Middle Ages Northern Europe
‘Are you still my brother?’
Author: Simha Goldin

In this study, the various aspects of the way the Jews regarded themselves in the context of the lapse into another religion will be researched fully for the first time. We will attempt to understand whether they regarded the issue of conversion with self-confidence or with suspicion, whether their attitude was based on a clear theological position or on doubt and the coping with the problem as part of the process of socialization will be fully analysed. In this way, we will better understand how the Jews saw their own identity whilst living as a minority among the Christian majority, whose own self-confidence was constantly becoming stronger from the 10th to the 14th century until they eventually ousted the Jews completely from the places they lived in, England, France and large parts of Germany. This aspect of Jewish self-identification, written by a person who converted to Christianity, can help clarify a number of