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Legal Practice and the Written Word in the Early Middle Ages
Frankish Formulae, c.500–1000

$47.99 (C)

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Part of Cambridge Studies in Medieval Life and Thought: Fourth Series

  • Date Published: August 2011
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107402836

$ 47.99 (C)

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About the Authors
  • Legal formularies are books of model legal documents compiled by early medieval scribes for their own use and that of their pupils. A major source for the history of early medieval Europe, they document social relations beyond the narrow world of the political elite. Formularies offer much information regarding the lives of ordinary people: sales and gifts of land, divorces, adoptions, and disputes over labour as well as theft, rape or murder. Until now, the use of formularies as a historical source has been hampered by severe methodological problems, in particular through the difficulty of establishing a precise chronological or geographical context for them. By examining Frankish legal formularies from the Merovingian and Carolingian periods, this book provides an invaluable, detailed analysis of the problems and possibilities associated with formularies, and will be required reading for scholars of early medieval history.

    • The first English-language book that examines legal formularies from the Merovingian and Carolingian periods
    • Includes a catalogue of relevant manuscripts, providing a context for the material discussed
    • Separate discussions of each individual collection allow for easy reference use
    Read more


    • Winner of the 2009 Royal Historical Society Gladstone Prize

    Reviews & endorsements

    "...the step forward which Alice Rio's book represents is of enormous value to all those interested in the written data of the early Middle Ages in the Frankish kingdoms, and its continually manifested articulate intelligence leads us to hope that from the author the best is yet to come. That could be spectacular. " -Roger Wright, Bryn Mawr Classical Review

    "...Rio is to be applauded for bringing to our attention new ways of thinking about a very old source." -M.A. Claussen, American Historical Review

    "Alice Rio has produced a volume which both addresses a highly specific and long-neglected body of material and contributes meaningfully to the fields of book history and diplomatics." -Robin Sutherland-Harris, Canadian Journal of History

    "It is easy to praise a book like this, which convinces with elegant arguments clothed in eloquent prose.." -Richard Matthew Pollar, Comitatus: A Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies

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    Product details

    • Date Published: August 2011
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107402836
    • length: 312 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 17 mm
    • weight: 0.42kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Formulae, Charters and the Written Word:
    1. Orality and literacy in Frankish society
    2. An uneasy partnership? Formulae and charters
    Part II. Inventory of the Evidence:
    3. Defining the corpus
    4. Catalogue of collections
    Part III. Formulae as a Historical Source: Limits and Possibilities:
    5. Dating formulae
    6. Local context and diffusion
    7. From late antique notaries to ecclesiastical scribes: when, where and why formularies survive
    8. Formulae and written law
    9. A methodological test-case: slavery and unfreedom in the formularies
    Appendix: a handlist of manuscripts.

  • Author

    Alice Rio, King's College London


    • Winner of the 2009 Royal Historical Society Gladstone Prize

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