The Consumption of Justice

The Consumption of Justice: Emotions, Publicity, and Legal Culture in Marseille, 1264–1423

DANIEL LORD SMAIL
Copyright Date: 2003
Published by: Cornell University Press
Pages: 296
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7591/j.ctt32b4cz
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  • Book Info
    The Consumption of Justice
    Book Description:

    In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, the ideas and practices of justice in Europe underwent significant change as procedures were transformed and criminal and civil caseloads grew apace. Drawing on the rich judicial records of Marseille from the years 1264 to 1423, especially records of civil litigation, this book approaches the courts of law from the perspective of the users of the courts (the consumers of justice) and explains why men and women chose to invest resources in the law.

    Daniel Lord Smail shows that the courts were quickly adopted as a public stage on which litigants could take revenge on their enemies. Even as the new legal system served the interest of royal or communal authority, it also provided the consumers of justice with a way to broadcast their hatreds and social sanctions to a wider audience and negotiate their own community standing in the process. The emotions that had driven bloodfeuds and other forms of customary vengeance thus never went away, and instead were fully incorporated into the new procedures.

    eISBN: 978-0-8014-6878-0
    Subjects: History, Law

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. List of Tables
    (pp. vi-vi)
  4. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. vii-ix)
  5. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. x-x)
  6. A NOTE ON USAGE
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  7. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-28)

    Troubles began for the shoemaker Antoni d’Ays in the early 1330s when his wife, Douselina, left him and left Marseille too.¹ Several years after her departure, at Antoni’s prompting, the judge of the palace court wrote a stern letter ordering her to return to her husband. She, or someone writing on her behalf, impertinently scribbled a refusal on the back of the letter and returned it to the judge, declaring that she wished to have nothing further to do with that man. With his wife gone, Antoni’s possibly sexual relationship with his maid, Dousa, developed into a cozy domestic one....

  8. CHAPTER ONE USING THE COURTS
    (pp. 29-88)

    Until 1348, Marseille consisted of three politically distinct jurisdictions, namely the upper or episcopal city, the small jurisdiction known as the Praepositura that surrounded the cathedral of La Major, and the lower or viscountal city. In the late twelfth century, the lower city began to emancipate itself from the control of the viscounts of Marseille, a process more or less complete by 1220. In the course of its political elaboration the commune almost certainly incorporated elements of Roman law.¹ Although no statutes survive from this period, and charters are few and far between, Italian communes such as Pisa had been...

  9. CHAPTER TWO STRUCTURES OF HATRED
    (pp. 89-132)

    If love and friendship formed the warp of Marseille’s basic social fabric, hatred and animosity supplied the woof. Such competitive tension is built into all societies.¹ “Groups are in competition with one another for power and resources,” Sally Falk Moore remarks, “and individuals likewise compete with one another for valued social positions and goods. These competitions can be long-term or short-term, cool, smoldering, or flaming, but they are always in the background.”² Bloodfeuds, raids, bloody brawls, insults: these are instances when the underlying animosity, the urge to seek redress, temporarily surfaces, like the fruiting bodies that reveal the existence of...

  10. CHAPTER THREE THE PURSUIT OF DEBT
    (pp. 133-159)

    Economics and enmities often generate overlapping metaphorical fields. In many human societies, the bloodfeud and the vendetta, as sets of exchanges between two parties, are metaphorically configured according to the language and practice of the gift and the counter-gift. “Gifts have been given to you, father and sons alike,” remarks Bergthora of Njal’s Saga to her sons, speaking of a grievous insult, “and you would scarcely be men if you did not repay them.”¹ The gift exchange involves more than just the thing being exchanged, for the giving of the gift creates an obligation that colors the ensuing relationship until...

  11. CHAPTER FOUR BODY AND BONA
    (pp. 160-206)

    The system of coercion and sanction as it was practiced in fourteenth-century Marseille was built around the simple principle that whereas people were mobile their property was not. It was easy for a person to escape the law. Outside the walls of the city, the jurisdiction of the courts ended at the fuzzy boundary between the city’s territory and the world beyond. Inside the walls, jurisdiction ended abruptly at the threshold separating the secular space of street and plaza from the ecclesiastical space of church and monastery. Criminals and bankrupts made free use of these boundaries, and the system of...

  12. CHAPTER FIVE THE PUBLIC ARCHIVE
    (pp. 207-241)

    Judges of Marseille’s court of inquest went to great lengths to uncover the facts in cases of homicide and serious assault. They conducted preliminary interviews in an effort to identify the likely suspect, fingered the blades used, and took the depositions of expert medical witnesses. The facts in place, judges then embedded them in a convincing storyline: “Mathea Sadaroni, a Catalan of Barcelona, was a friend of Maya de Anycellis, and she lived with her in the house of Druda de Lingris, one of the suspects, which is located in the Prostitutes quarter. There she shared a room with Maya,...

  13. CONCLUSION
    (pp. 242-246)

    To adopt the perspective of the user of the courts of law in late medieval Europe is to see aspects of the medieval practice of law that one normally does not see. The role of emotions in records of civil litigation and criminal prosecution from late medieval Marseille is a case in point. On the whole, procedural manuals and other normative legal sources such as law codes and statutes have little to say about the emotions, and the normal bureaucratic practice of eliding emotions from all types of records more or less ensures that emotions can be recovered only with...

  14. APPENDIX: THE NATURE AND FORMAT OF THE RECORD
    (pp. 247-258)
  15. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 259-270)
  16. INDEX
    (pp. 271-278)