Vengeance in Medieval Europe: A Reader


How did medieval society deal with private justice, with grudges, and with violent emotions? This ground-breaking reader collects for the first time a number of unpublished or difficult-to-find texts that address violence and emotion in the Middle Ages.

The sources collected here illustrate the power and reach of the language of vengeance in medieval European society. They span the early, high, and later middle ages, and capture a range of perspectives including legal sources, ...

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How did medieval society deal with private justice, with grudges, and with violent emotions? This ground-breaking reader collects for the first time a number of unpublished or difficult-to-find texts that address violence and emotion in the Middle Ages.

The sources collected here illustrate the power and reach of the language of vengeance in medieval European society. They span the early, high, and later middle ages, and capture a range of perspectives including legal sources, learned commentaries, narratives, and documents of practice. Though social elites necessarily figure prominently in all medieval sources, sources concerning relatively low-status individuals and sources pertaining to women are included. The sources range from saints' lives that illustrate the idea of vengeance to later medieval court records concerning vengeful practices. A secondary goal of the collection is to illustrate the prominence of mechanisms for peacemaking in medieval European society.

The introduction traces recent scholarly developments in the study of vengeance and discusses the significance of these concepts for medieval political and social history.

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Editorial Reviews

The editors are to be applauded for their outstanding efforts to make so many relevant texts available. Overall, the entire period of the Middle Ages is well covered, and we can easily grasp the long tradition on vengeance going back to the Old Testament. This proves to be a very useful textbook that will allow new approaches in university seminars.
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Daniel Lord Smail is Professor of History at Harvard University. He is the co-editor with Thelma Fenster of Fama: The Politics of Talk and Reputation in Medieval Europe (Cornell University Press, 2003), The Consumption of Justice: Emotions, Publicity, and Legal Culture in Marseille, 1264-1423 (Cornell University Press, 2003), and Imaginary Cartographies: Possession and Identity in Late Medieval Marseille (Cornell University Press, 1999).

Kelly Gibson is a doctoral candidate in the Department of History at Harvard University.

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Table of Contents


Part I. Prologue: Sources for the Medieval Language of Vengeance

Chapter One: The Old Testament

1. The Pollution of Kin-Slaying

2. The Law of the Talion

3. Vengeance and Emotion

4. The Principle of Sanctuary

5. The Levite's Concubine

6. Humiliation and the Lord's Vengeance

7. Restraining the Vengeful Emotions

8. The Vengeance of the Maccabees

Chapter Two: The New Testament

9. Peacemaking and the Ties of Kinship

10. Humility as Vengeance?

Chapter Three: Roman Laws

11. Criminal Justice and Vengeance in the Theodosian Code and Sirmondian Constitutions

12. Criminal Justice and Vengeance in Justinian's Digest

Part II. The Early Middle Ages (500?1000)

Chapter Four: Codes, Capitularies, and Penitentials

13. The Laws of the Salian Franks

14. The Lombard Laws

15. Carolingian Capitularies

16. Early Medieval English Law

17. Emotion and Sin

Chapter Five: Sermons, Exegesis, and Letters

18. Augustine on the Legitimacy of Fighting Back

19. Augustine on the Need to Await God's Vengeance

20. Jerome on Kindness and Cruelty

21. Law and the ""Accursed Custom"" of Vengeance in Theoderic's Italy

22. Isidore of Seville on the Law of the Talion

23. Pope Honorius Speaks of Justice as Vengeance

24. Smaragdus of St. Mihiel on Restraining Royal Anger

25. Hrabanus Maurus?s Homily on Avoiding Anger and Homicide

26. Einhard on the Fear of Family Vengeance

27. Charles the Bald to Pope Nicholas on Vengeance without Violence

28. Vengeance for the ""Hard Man""

Chapter Six: Saints' Lives, Chronicles, and Epics

29. Jordanes on Vengeance and the Vandal Wars of Conquest

30. Gregory of Tours on Feuding and Vengeance

31. Gregory of Tours on God's Vengeance

32. Vengeance As the Devil's Work in the Life of Saint Sadalberga

33. Saint Amandus Rescues a Man from Judicial Vengeance

34. Saint Willibrord Forgoes Vengeance and Anger

35. History of the Lombards by Paul the Deacon

36. Einhard on the Peace Inspired by the Relics of Saints Marcellinus and Peter

37. Saint Gerald of Aurillac Seeks Peace with His Enemies

38. Liutprand of Cremona's Tit-For-Tat

39. Heroic Vengeance

Chapter Seven: Formularies, Charters, and Judgments

40. Security for Peace after a Murder

41. An Orderly Merovingian Judgment

42. Lombard Notice of Judgment at Pavia

Part III. The High Middle Ages (1000?1250)

Chapter Eight: The Effort to Regulate Violence and Emotion

43. The Peace of God in Charroux

44. Penance for Homicide in the Decretum of Burchard of Worms

45. The Laws of the Family of St. Peter

46. The Penitential of Burchard of Worms

47. Truce of God in Arles

48. A Comital Peace Assembly of Barcelona

49. The Truce of God in Cologne

50. Peace of the Land in Mainz

51. The Laws of Henry I of England

52. The Usatges of Barcelona

53. Rules for Trial by Combat in Brescia

54. The Penitential of Alain of Lille

55. The Penitential of Robert of Flamborough

56. General Constitution Concerning Judgments and Keeping the Peace

Chapter Nine: Sermons and Learned Commentary on Anger and Vengeance

57. Aelfric's Sermon on Anger and Peace

58. Wulfstan's ?Sermon of the Wolf? on the Evils of His Day

59. Peter Damian on Restraining Anger

60. A Letter by Peter Damian on the Vengeance of Spiritual Leaders

61. William of Malmesbury on the Consequences of Resisting Peace

62. Pope Urban II Urges Vengeance on the Enemies of Christendom in Robert the Monk?s History of Jerusalem

63. An Account of the Speech of Pope Urban II by Fulcher of Chartres

64. A Sermon by Saint Francis on Hatred and Peace

65. The Wolf of Gubbio

66. Albertanus of Brescia on the Cost of Pursing Private War

67. Thomas Aquinas on Homicide, Vengeance, and Anger

Chapter Ten: Saints' Lives, Chronicles, and Epics

68. Rodulphus Glaber on the Truce of God

69. How the Emperor Conrad Pacified His Realm, According to Wipo

70. Adam of Bremen on the Attacks of Bishop Adalbert's Enemies

71. The Cattle-Raid of Cooley

72. Feud between Bishop Gaudry and Baron Gérard in the Autobiography of Guibert of Nogent

73. The Murder of Charles the Good by Galbert of Bruges

74. Peter Abelard's ""Story of My Adversities""

75. The Deeds of Louis the Fat by Suger of St. Denis

76. The Vengeance of Kings in Geoffrey of Monmouth's History of the Kings of Britain

77. The Bloodfeud of Meingold and Albric

78. Hariulf on the Sweet Words of Arnulf of Soissons

79. Chronicle of the Slavs by Helmold of Bosau

80. Emotions among the Military Aristocracy in Raoul of Cambrai

81. The Hatred of Kriemhild and Brunhild in The Nibelungenlied

82. Parzival by Wolfram von Eschenbach

83. Harald's Norway and the Flight to Iceland in the Laxdaela Saga

84. The Story of a Feud in Njal's Saga

Chapter Eleven: Peace Charters and Oaths

85. Peace Oath Proposed by Bishop Warin of Beauvais to King Robert the Pious

86. Henry II Settles a Feud on Monastic Land

87. Attempted Settlement by Combat

88. Grant to the Norman Bishops of Fines Due from Breaches of the Truce of God

89. A Catalan Peace Settlement

90. A Forged Immunity of King Dagobert III

91. A Peace Treaty from Avignon

Part IV. The Later Middle Ages (1250?1500)

Chapter Twelve: Municipal, Territorial, and Royal Laws Concerning Vengeance and Murder

92. Homicide in the Laws and Customs of England

93. From the Sachsenspiegel

94. Guarantees of Peace in the Customs of Touraine and Anjou

95. The Law of Homicide in the Fuero Real

96. Procedures for Private War in the Customs of Beauvaisis

97. The Statute of Homicide of Marseille, France

98. From the Statutes of Acqui, Italy

99. From the Statutes of Apricale, Italy

100. From the Statutes of Saone, Italy

101. From the Statutes of Cuneo, Italy

102. From the Statutes of Celle, Italy

103. The Perpetual Peace of the Land Proclaimed by Maximilian I

Chapter Thirteen: Ecclesiastical and Secular Commentary on Peace and the Restraint of Emotions

104. The Nature of Wrath According to a Preacher's Manual

105. A Sermon on Peace by Vincent Ferrer

106. Laudable Anger in Leonardo Bruni's Handbook of Moral Philosophy

107. Sermon on the Importance of Peace by Bernardino of Siena

Chapter Fourteen: Saints' Lives, Chronicles, and Epics

108. A vision of peacemaking in the Miracles of Saint Rose of Viterbo

109. Ambrose Sansedonius's Preaching of Peace Arouses Enmity

110. The Vengeful Miracles of Saint Bridget of Sweden

111. Saint Catherine of Siena as Peacemaker

112. Vengeance and Peace in the Life of Cola di Rienzo

113. Dino Compagni on the Florentine Factions

114. Trial by Combat in Froissart's Chronicles

115. The Vengeance of Our Lord

116. A Miracle of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Chapter Fifteen: Court Cases and Notarial Peace Acts

117. The Peace Registers of the City of Tournai

118. Tura Ranerii, of Florence, Creates a Procurator

119. Cases of Homicide in the Calendar of Coroner's Rolls, London

120. Notarized Peace Acts and Related Acts from Marseille

121. A Lawsuit by Nicolau Guilhem, a Cutler of Marseille

122. A Lawsuit against Lois Orlet of Marseille

123. A Lawsuit by Anhellon Faber, a Butcher of Marseille

124. An Inquest into the Murder of Bernart Berengier in Marseille

125. The Marseille City Council Makes a Ruling about Broken Sanctuary

126. Ignoring Due Process during a Feud in the Paston Letters


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