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Droits savants et pratiques francaises du pouvoir: XIe-XVe siecles.

Ed. by Jacques Krynen and Albert Rigaudiere. (Bordeaux: Presses Universitaires de Bordeaux, 1992.). 316 pp. ISBN 2-86781-135. F. fr. 150. In this very interesting and wide-ranging volume deriving from a |round table' at the University of Bordeaux, twelve papers by historians of mediaeval law seek to raise questions about the relationship of the learned laws and the practice of power: a neglected topic which is of relevance to all historians of the period. In particular, die papers give insight into the discourse used for the conduct of politics, and thereby help to break down barriers between, for example, political and intellectual history. Five contributors are concerned with the period before the revival of Justinian's texts. Olivier Guillot examines a famous letter of Fulbert de Chartres to Fulk Nerra. Jean-Pierre Poly provides an overview of the |crisis of the year 1000', and also a detailed study of Roman law collections in the France of the time; these are listed in a useful annexe. Yves Sassier draws thought-provoking conclusions from his survey of die appearance of the phrase res publica in die tenth to twelfth ccnturies. Most of the papers on the period after the twelfth century are, not surprisingly, narrower, sometimes concentrating on individual scholars or texts; a notable exception is Laurent Mayah's discussion |De la juris auctoritas a la legis potestas. Aux origines de l'Etat de droit dans la science juridique medievale'. Necessarily, some questions are only partially raised or answered. Particularly in the early period, how far were the learned law ideas understood? How far did people simply latch on to certain |learned' words, for example res publica, and fill them with their own meaning? How important, compared with other influences on the exercise of power, was that of learned law? Reading of some of the pieces, for example those by Eric Bournazel and Pierre Ourliac, might well suggest that learned ideas really were of limited importance; these very essays helping us better to understand the wider political context. It must be hoped that historians, not just of France, will read this book and seek to develop the insights which it suggests.
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Author:Hudson, John
Publication:Medium Aevum
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Mar 22, 1993
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