The Spirit of Classical Canon Law

Overview


Despite the long reach of classical canon law—across Europe, well into modern times, and into such secular subjects as theft, wills, and the sale of goods—it has been the subject of far too few general studies in English. Illuminating the basic nature of the canon, this work explores the roles of moral, social, political, and religious values in the laws' development through the seventeenth century. At the same time, R. H. Helmholz makes relevant the attitudes and formal ...
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Overview


Despite the long reach of classical canon law—across Europe, well into modern times, and into such secular subjects as theft, wills, and the sale of goods—it has been the subject of far too few general studies in English. Illuminating the basic nature of the canon, this work explores the roles of moral, social, political, and religious values in the laws' development through the seventeenth century. At the same time, R. H. Helmholz makes relevant the attitudes and formal techniques of the laws' authors, practitioners, and interpreters.

Helmholz first discusses the origins of the canon law; the collection of texts, known as the Corpus iuris canonici, which form its foundation; the basic sources on which the Corpus draws, including the Bible and Roman law; and the body of juristic commentary on the Corpus. He then considers, in turn, fourteen of the major areas affected by the laws such as the governance of the Church (in particular the law of election of bishops), the sacraments (baptism), and legal sanctions (the law of excommunication).

In conclusion, Helmholz points to three common themes that characterize the laws and their implementation: their close connection with the goals and ideals of the Gregorian reform movement, a concern for the spiritual health of all concerned parties, and an interest in securing justice and protection for the unfortunate. Helmholz also comments on the lawyerly skill of the men who devoted their careers to the canon law and the law's ambitious goals. He does not shrink from describing its unpalatable aspects, such as its acceptance of slavery, its restrictions on religious freedom, and its use as an instrument of the clergy's agenda.

The size and complexity of the body of church law and its jurisprudence have kept historians in many fields from appreciating how this topic might enrich their studies. The Spirit of Classical Canon Law provides them with the ideal entree.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Whereas the focus to date of so much writing on medieval canon law has been that of its systematization, this study shifts that focus fairly and squarely to the substantive law, and in so doing sets the agenda for future work in the field. This book is beautifully produced.”—Ecclesiastical Law Review

“Helmholz’s book demonstrates that the study of the classical canon law is not simply a matter of historical curiosity, but it may also be a glimpse into our future.”—Patrick S. Cheng, Anglican and Episcopal History

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780820334639
  • Publisher: University of Georgia Press
  • Publication date: 5/15/2010
  • Series: The Spirit of the Laws Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 528
  • Sales rank: 1,329,124
  • Product dimensions: 6.44 (w) x 9.02 (h) x 1.25 (d)

Meet the Author


R. H. Helmholz is the Ruth Wyatt Rosenson Distinguished Service Professor of Law at the University of Chicago. He is the author of numerous books including Roman Canon Law in Reformation England and The Canon Law and Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction from 597 to the 1640s.
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Table of Contents


Abbreviations ix
Preface xi
1 Introduction: Sources and Literature of the Canon Law 1
2 Governance of the Church: The Law of Episcopal Elections 33
3 Qualifications of the Clergy: Ordination of the Unfree 61
4 Remedies and Canonical Procedure: The Canonical Restitutio in Integrum
5 Principles of Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction: The Protection of Miserabiles Personae and Jurisdiction ex Defectu Justitiae 116
6 Religious Principles and Practical Problems: The Canon Law of Oaths 145
7 Economic and Property Rights: The Canon Law of Prescription 174
8 The Christian Sacraments: The Canon Law of Baptism 200
9 Monastic Vows and Marriage Contracts: Freedom of Choice in the Canon Law 229
10 Criminal Law of the Church: Crime of Blasphemy 257
11 Criminal Procedure: The Law of Double Jeopardy 284
12 The Papacy in the Canon Law: The Law of Papal Privileges 311
13 Cooperation and Coercion in the Courts of Church and State: Invocation of the Secular Arm 339
14 Canonical Sanctions: The Law of Excommunication 366
15 Conclusion: Common Themes and Observation 394
Notes 401
Bibliography of Early Law Books Cited 483
Index of Biblical Citations 491
Index of Legal Citations 493
General Index 501
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