In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

90BOOK REVIEWS man himsetf. He wrote about himseU in the third person, depicting himsetf, on the whole, as a weU-meaning, high-minded participant in much tragic business. Nicol scours the sources to provide whatever can be said about the personality ofJohnVI Kantakouzenos Ln order to round out his presentation of the history of the period. He offers a sympathetic view of his subject, and this has formed the basis of nearly every modern Byzantinist's opinion of the man. And therein Ues the problem.There are only so many ways to tell the same story. About a third of The Byzantine Family ofKantakouzenos (pp. 35-103) deals with Kantakouzenos and a quarter of The Last Centuries ofByzantium (pp. 157-261) deals with the period covered by his memoirs.Perhaps three-quarters of the present book consist of paraphrases of sections from these two works. Nicol teUs the story well, and it is a story worth teUing, but there is little here that he has not already said before. Scholars and students would do better to read his Last Centuries ofByzantium, a superb treatment of the turbulent late Byzantine age. Mark C. Bartusis Northern State University Aberdeen, South Dakota Liberty, Right, and Nature:Individual Rights in Later Scholastic Thought. By Annabel S. Brett. (NewYork: Cambridge University Press. 1997. Pp. xii, 254.) The word ius, as anyone acquainted with medieval juristic or scholastic texts recognizes immediately, poses a baffling array of problems for those who wish to expUcate its range of meanings. Annabel Brett has written an important and stimulating book that provides such an explication with respect to the scholastic discourse of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries as weU as the writings of the Spanish Neo-Scholastics of the sixteenth century andThomas Hobbes in the seventeenth. In asuming this chaUenging undertaking, Brett has performed a signal service for scholars. Our knowledge of the uses to which this term was put has been enriched substantiaUy by her work. Brett's work is divisible into two large sections, each consisting of three chapters . In the first half of her book, she addresses the formation of the scholastic discourse of individual rights. She begins by rebutting the notion, advanced by historians like Richard Tuck, that the equivalence between ius and dominium made by some thirteenth- and fourteenth-century writers amounts to "the 'origin ' of the modern subjective right in its most radical form ... in which it is preeminently associated with Uberty, with property, and with a certain idea of sovereignty" (p. 10).To be sure, some thirteenth-century writers, especially theologians associated with the Franciscan Order, did make such an equation. St. Bonaventure and John Pecham, for instance, equated ius and dominium as part of a larger effort to understand the freedom of the will necessary to renounce the goods of this world: "lus as much as dominium involved the abUity to claim BOOK REVIEWS91 in court" (p. 18), and so violated the spirit of humilitas required of every Friar Minor. But most medieval authors, Brett continues, did not make the ius-dominium equivalence a central part of their thought on the freedom of the individual. Brett brings this point home by reviewing the works ofRoman lawyers like Bartolus of Sassoferrato and the authors of Summae confessorum of the late thirteenth , fourteenth, and fifteenth centuries. She closes the chapter by looking to writers of the late fifteenth or early sixteenth century, such as Conrad Summenhart and John Mair, to conclude that analysis of "the equivalence of dominium and ius . . . did not bequeath to the scholastics of the sixteenth century a language of ius as sovereignty or indifferent choice" (p. 48). After refuting those who would see dominium-ius as the origin ofWestern subjective rights talk, Brett turns her attention in the next two chapters to the role played by the scholastic writers in the shaping of the Western rights vocabulary .The story she tells is compelling and important. She sees WUUam of Ockham as playing a crucial role in the development of this vocabulary, especially in the philosophicaUy rigorous definition he offered of ius as a potestas licita. She avoids the pitfaU of tracing Ockham's definition back to his nominalist and voluntarist...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 90-93
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.