The Medieval Origins of the Legal ProfessionCanonists, Civilians, and Courts

The Medieval Origins of the Legal ProfessionCanonists, Civilians, and Courts

James A. Brundage

Print publication date: 2013

ISBN: 9780226077598

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract

In the aftermath of sixth-century barbarian invasions, the legal profession that had grown and flourished during the Roman Empire vanished. Nonetheless, professional lawyers suddenly reappeared in Western Europe 700 years later during the 1230s, when church councils and public authorities began to impose a body of ethical obligations on those who practiced law. This book traces the history of legal practice from its genesis in ancient Rome to its rebirth in the early Middle Ages and eventual resurgence in the courts of the medieval church. By the end of the eleventh century, the book argues, renewed interest in Roman law combined with the rise of canon law of the Western church to trigger a series of consolidations in the profession. New legal procedures emerged, and formal training for proctors and advocates became necessary in order to practice law in the reorganized church courts. The book demonstrates that many features that characterize legal advocacy today were already in place by 1250, as lawyers trained in Roman and canon law became professionals in every sense of the term. It also examines the centuries-long power struggle between local courts and the Christian church, secular rule and religious edict.