In medieval legal transactions the use of the written word was only one of many ways of conducting business. Important roles were played by the spoken word and by the ‘action’ of ritual. The relationship between ‘rituals’ and literacy has been the focus of much recent research. Medieval societies which made extensive use of written instruments in legal transactions have been shown to employ rituals as well. This has led to investigation of the respective functions of written instruments and legal rituals. What is the nature of legal rituals? If they included oral verbalization, how did the spoken words relate to those of the written instruments that played a role in the same legal transactions? Usually, we only have the written documents to answer these questions, and they are often silent about the rituals and oral elements of the transactions they document. Furthermore, the importance attached to written instruments and rituals may not have been the same at all levels of a society, differing, for example, between princely and local courts. The contributors to this volume discuss fifteen cases, ranging from the early Middle Ages to the eighteenth century, and from England to Galician Rus’.
|Title of host publication||Medieval Legal Process|
|Subtitle of host publication||Physical, Spoken and Written Performance in the Middle Ages|
|Editors||Marco Mostert, P.S. Barnwell|
|Place of Publication||Turnhout|
|Number of pages||15|
|Publication status||Published - 2011|
|Name||Utrecht Studies in Medieval Literacy|