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.
Subjects: History, Law
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