The Medieval Origins of the Legal Profession: Canonists, Civilians, and Courts by James A. Brundage (review)
- The Jurist: Studies in Church Law and Ministry
- The Catholic University of America Press
- Volume 71, Number 1, 2011
- pp. 234-235
- View Citation
- Additional Information
Book Reviews THE MEDIEVAL ORIGINS OF THE LEGAL PROFESSION: CANONISTS , CIVILIANS,AND COURTS by JamesA. Brundage. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 2008. For the last two centuries the common understanding of the term ‘profession ’ among English speakers would refer to the specialization of an individual that allowed him or her to make a living. Not so for lawyers in the Middle Ages. As the author is at pains to demonstrate quoting Placentinus (d.1192), legal scholarship was considered sacred “not to be sullied by a price tag” (p.191) at least in an ideal world. The concept was inherited from Roman law as so much else that initiated the process of creating a distinct class of lawyers who considered themselves the equals of knights and other nobles. Their formation, characteristics, practice, successes, and achievements are traced by the author with great learning, skill, and often wit in the 492 pages of this impressive volume, largely on the basis of canonistic sources from the twelfth century to the fifteenth with an emphasis on the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The book is divided into eleven chapters and contains besides a preface and conclusion excellent indices, including an index of citations and an extensive bibliography, subdivided into primary (23 pages) and secondary works. Chapters one and two of the book are largely introductory, providing sketches of the practice of law in the Roman Empire and the successor kingdoms. The legal revival of the twelfth century is the topic of chapter three, continuing in chapter four with a description of the ecclesiastical judicial system and the evolution of the papal primacy in respect to judge-delegates and appeals. This is followed by a very useful analysis of the procedures and activities of “Pre-Professional Lawyers” in twelfth-century church courts. It provides an essential introduction to the chief focus of the book, the actual legal professionals of the later middle ages. Judges, advocates, proctors, and notaries receive their due, as do the law faculties of the new universities; for their development goes hand in hand with the evolution of the professional jurist, dated with respect to canon law by the author to the mid-thirteenth century. At that point church authorities began to formally admit advocates and proctors to practice in their courts. During the expensive but necessary admission process candidates had to show that they possessed “a basic knowledge of substantive and procedural law” (p. 342) which they could acquire The Jurist 71 (2011) 234–266 234 usually through university study and practical experience. They also had to make a solemn “public promise that they would observe some basic rules of legal ethics and conduct in their relationship with the courts and with their clients” (p. 342). All of this is presented in great detail, largely based on primary sources. The different groups of legal professionals were not closed, but allowed individuals to pass from one group to another . Advocates, proctors as well as judges—the latter were appointed by ecclesiastical or imperial authority—often, though not always accumulated wealth and fame; their ethical obligations required that they represent poor clients free of charge. Uta-Renate Blumenthal Professor emerita Department of History The Catholic University of America STEPHAN KUTTNER IN AMERIKA 1940–1964: GRUNDLEGUNG DER MODERNEN HISTORISCH-KANONISTISCHEN FORSCHUNG by Andreas Hetzenecker. Schriften zur Rechtsgeschichte, 133. Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, 2007. For those of us who teach at The Catholic University of America, this book is not a happy story. Stephan Kuttner came toAmerica on a Vatican passport in 1940. Catholic University extended him an academic position . He remained at the university until he left for Yale University in 1964, where he became the T. Lawrason Riggs Professor of Roman Catholic Studies. In 1969, Kuttner leftYale to become the Director of the Robbins Canon Law Collection at Berkeley Law School, the University of California. During his time at Catholic University, Kuttner had become the center of the world of medieval legal historians. He founded the journal Traditio in 1943, and the Institute of Medieval Canon Law in 1955 at Catholic University, now the Stephan Kuttner Institute of Medieval Canon Law and housed in the law school of the University of Munich...