Urban Legal Culture as Reflected by a Monastic Chronicle (13th-century England)
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Urban Legal Culture as Reflected by a Monastic Chronicle (13th-century England)
Publication type
Anna Anisimova 
Institute of World History RAS
State Academic University for the Humanities
Address: Russian Federation, Moscow

The article deals with the information on law history that can be extracted from the sources, not legal. The research is based on the way the urban law is reflected in the monastic chronicle composed in Dunstable priory (Bedfordshire, England), mostly during the 13th century. The town in itself was not the focus of this chronicle, as its authors were more interested in the rights and privileges of their monastic house. However, as Dunstable was a part, and quite significant at that, of the priory’s property, “Annals” pay rather extensive attention to the town and its inhabitants. Mostly the chronicle gives a description of conflict situations, usually connected with the townspeople’s claims to different rights, but it also touches on the daily practice of urban legal activities. There is information on principal judicial institutions, i.e., a seigneurial curia, a town’s court, visits of itinerary judges, central courts, as well as town’s officials and inhabitants’ expectations and opportunities regarding these issues. Besides, “Annals” not infrequently include the whole texts of different legal documents, for example, agreements, royal writs, judicial decisions. Some of them are not known from elsewhere. Thus, in combination with other monastic sources — a cartulary and a treatise, both written in the same century, the chronicle pictures a rather vivid impression of the legal system of a small seigneurial town and shows the development of its community.

small town, medieval town, monastic chronicle, urban law, social history
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