Charters as Texts and as Objects in Judicial Actions: The Example of the Carolingian Private Charters of St Gall

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    Abstract

    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’.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationMedieval Legal Process
    Subtitle of host publicationPhysical, Spoken and Written Performance in the Middle Ages
    EditorsMarco Mostert, P.S. Barnwell
    Place of PublicationTurnhout
    PublisherBrepols Publishers
    Pages39-53
    Number of pages15
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2011

    Publication series

    NameUtrecht Studies in Medieval Literacy
    Number22

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