- The Etablissements de Saint Louis: Thirteenth-Century Law Texts from Tours, Orléans and Paris (review)
- Australian and New Zealand Association of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (Inc.)
- Volume 15, Number 2, January 1998
- pp. 195-197
- View Citation
- Additional Information
Reviews 195 Humfrey, deemed to be 'murus contra venenosas linguas'; the friar's dreary aUegories; and Capgrave's advance in the order. Of m u c h more interest are: his EngUsh hagiographies—of St. Norbert, of St. Katharine of Alexandria, St. Augustine, St. Gilbert; and various Latin pieces referring to both the 'founding of Eton CoUege, St. Nicholas CoUege and King's College, Cambridge'. The latter sections are concerned with: Capgrave as provincial (1453-57); his obtaining good will for his order; and his last years (1457-1464) as a staunch Lancastrian. The finest portion of Seymour's study is the conclusion, treating of Capgrave's Abbreuiacion of Cronicles, foUowing Higden's Polychronicon and, essentially, a poUtical history of England, covering two centuries. The general conclusion is that the Hermit identified his whole being with his order, devoted himself to the study of the Bible, and consoUdated past wisdom rather than enlarged understanding. Despite his o w n doubts, however, and his clearly expressed dubiousness as to the value of the biblical commentaries themselves, Martin Seymour has m a d e Capgrave remarkably accessible. Altogether, these lives and bibUographies serve to make these "English writers' of the late Middle Ages as accessible as they are ever likely to be. Careful editing, enthusiasm and an open format cannot but iUuminate some of the hitherto darker corners of the literary scene before the briUiant Renaissance dawn. J . S. Ryan Department of English University of N e w England The Etablissements de Saint Louis: Thirteenth-Century Law Texts from Tours, Orleans and Paris (Middle Ages Series), trans. F. R. P. Akehurst, Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1996; cloth; pp. xliv, 177; R.R.P. US$32.50. F. R. P. Akehurst's translation of the Etablissements de Saint Louis is a very welcome addition to the sources avaUable for scholars of medieval law and social history alike. The text which has come to us as the Etablissements de Saint Louis is not a single legal text, but rather 196 Reviews the three different texts brought together by a thirteenth-century compiler. Nor are the articles, as Akehurst points out, 'for the most part etablissements . . . but customary laws, and none of them was written by Saint Louis' (p. xxxviii). Akehurst provides not a new edition of the Etablissements, as he avows he has 'not presumed to be an editor' (p. xlu), but rather provides a translation of Viollet's edition of 1881. This is in itself exceedingly valuable, as Viollet's edition of the Etablissements — U k e so many other legal works edited in the nineteenth century—becomes increasingly more inaccessible to scholars—in particular to those newer scholars to w h o m Akehurst seems to address this translation. Akehurst's primary interests are with access to and clarification of the Etablissements; as he states, T have attempted to make the Etablissements de Saint Louis less obscure, confused, and ambiguous than Montesquieu found them' (p. xUv). His translation succeeds admirably in both its accessibiUty and clarity. Akehurst begins his book by providing a very good—if somewhat brief—introduction to legal processes in thirteenth-century France. He outlines the important differences between substantive and procedural law by using analogies to modern legal processes. H e is keen, however, to maintain the difference and distance of medieval codes of law by emphasising the nature of such customaries as supplementary to, rather than the basis of, a code of unwritten but w e U known and practised customary law. Always aware of the problems inherent to translation, Akehurst sets out his work very well and indicates clearly where and in what way his inclusions differ from those of Viollet. Within the body of the customs themselves, Akehurst makes the text very accessible by means of explanatory notes which often explain in greater detaU the problems of comprehending medieval legal language and processes to which he alludes in his introduction. The text is also rendered more accessible by way of the book's layout. The Contents lists the individual chapter headings within each section, and a list of topics relating to the specific articles has also been provided, apart from the general index. Akehurst...