Records of crime and disputes offer us some of the most intriguing insights into the premodern past. As one of the few types of source material which purports to record the actual speech and behaviour of individuals, they can seem to speak to us directly from the page — an illusion which sparked fascination with early microhistorical classics such as Montaillou, but which has subsequently prompted the emergence of a more cautious historiography engaged with their methodological challenges. Over the last thirty years a growing body of work has continued to demonstrate the enormous potential of court records for numerous avenues of enquiry, whether into practices of memory, gender, subjectivity, emotion, vengeance, feuding, honour, the history of legal institutions, and others.

This Special Collection brings together an international group of scholars at various stages of their career working on all aspects of late medieval court records, whether secular or ecclesiastical, with an interest in methodological issues pertaining to them. Questions we seek to pursue include: how do we define and access the truths or realities presented through records of disputes and crime? How did contemporaries use these documents to interact with each other, to create truths and to shape the reality of the world around them? And how should historians approach the images they present us with?

This Special Collection is guest edited by Dr. Frans Camphuijsen, University of Amsterdam and Dr. Jamie Page, Eberhard-Karls-Universität Tübingen.

Image: Detail from the first Olim-register of the Parlement de Paris, 1254-1273 Credit: Archives Nationales, X1A1, fol. 3 Photo: Frans Camphuijsen


New Approaches to Late Medieval Court Records

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Special Collections