Why Study Medieval Canon Law?
Version of Record online: 10 FEB 2014
© 2014 John Wiley & Sons Ltd
Volume 12, Issue 2, pages 133–149, February 2014
How to Cite
Rennie, K. R. and Taliadoros, J. (2014), Why Study Medieval Canon Law?. History Compass, 12: 133–149. doi: 10.1111/hic3.12131
- Issue online: 10 FEB 2014
- Version of Record online: 10 FEB 2014
- Manuscript Accepted: 24 OCT 2013
- Manuscript Revised: 23 OCT 2013
- Manuscript Received: 24 JUL 2013
Why study medieval canon law? Dominated for generations by German and French historians, the field is frequently viewed as hyper-specialised, arcane, abstruse, and inaccessible even to scholars of medieval history and religion. Yet, as this article suggests, nothing could be further from the truth. To treat the study of medieval canon law as peripheral to medieval life and society is to ignore and misunderstand its full potential. A current revival of scholarship is transforming this general impression, bringing necessary relevance and clarity to the law's importance in the Middle Ages. By examining the current ‘state of the field’, this article argues that a renaissance in the study of medieval canon law is now taking place, the impact of which is only beginning to be felt. It examines recent developments in the study of medieval canon law between the 11th and 13th centuries, arguing that this revival of scholarship has the potential to influence our understanding of medieval Europe as a whole.