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


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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

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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
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    • Winner of the 2009 Royal Historical Society Gladstone Prize

    Reviews & endorsements

    'Rio's book is a model of perceptive historical analysis …' Speculum

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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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