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Title:Strategic litigation: Legal culture and daily life in sixteenth-century Normandy
Author(s):Godwin, Katherine
Director of Research:Crowston, Clare
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Crowston, Clare
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Rabin, Dana; Symes, Carol; Lynn, John A.
Department / Program:History
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
late medieval Europe
early modern France
civil litigation
Abstract:This study is about how people interacted with the legal system and navigated different forms of recourse for civil disputes in late fifteenth- and early sixteenth-century Normandy, an important transitional period for the legal system in France. Broadly conceived (across a range of activity), yet narrowly focused (on records from 1500 and 1510), it traces practices along a spectrum of negotiation, conflict, and resolution. Using qualitative and quantitative analysis of notarial records as well as court records from the vicomté of Elbeuf and the Échiquier (Parlement) in Rouen, it shows that the courts played a limited role in civil dispute practice and resolution relative to their over-representation in historiography of the French legal system, and I argue for a broadening of perspective on the legal system and records utilized in order to more completely capture how people interacted with it. This study begins with an overview of laws and institutions and analysis of commentaries by jurists to set up the evident disconnect between theory and practice. It moves to an analysis of contracts to show how individual wants and communal norms may be reconciled with the letter of the law, the commemorative and defensive functions of contracts, and the coexistence of oral and written practices. Delving into actions in and out of court--from instigating maneuvers such as seizing goods and clameurs to patterns of court appearances, defaults and obstruction tactics to new complications posed by documentation to settlements, arbitration, and court rulings to enforcement practices and challenges to them—reveals civil dispute practices to be non-linear and variant as people took advantage of the opportunities created by their pluralistic system.
Issue Date:2019-11-27
Rights Information:Copyright 2019 Katherine Godwin
Date Available in IDEALS:2020-03-02
Date Deposited:2019-12

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