Vengeance in Medieval Europe: A Reader

Edited by Daniel Lord Smail and Kelly Gibson

© 2009

How did medieval society deal with private justice, with grudges, and with violent emotions? This ground-breaking reader collects for the first time a number of unpublished or difficult-to-find texts that address violence and emotion in the Middle Ages.

The sources collected here illustrate the power and reach of the language of vengeance in medieval European society. They span the early, high, and later middle ages, and capture a range of perspectives including legal sources, learned commentaries, narratives, and documents of practice. Though social elites necessarily figure prominently in all medieval sources, sources concerning relatively low-status individuals and sources pertaining to women are included. The sources range from saints' lives that illustrate the idea of vengeance to later medieval court records concerning vengeful practices. A secondary goal of the collection is to illustrate the prominence of mechanisms for peacemaking in medieval European society.

The introduction traces recent scholarly developments in the study of vengeance and discusses the significance of these concepts for medieval political and social history.

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Product Details

  • Series: Readings in Medieval Civilizations and Cultures
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 496 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 1.3in x 9.0in
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SKU# HE000285

  • PUBLISHED JUN 2009

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    ISBN 9781442601260
  • PUBLISHED JUN 2009
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Quick Overview

How did medieval society deal with private justice, with grudges, and with violent emotions? This ground-breaking reader collects for the first time a number of unpublished or difficult-to-find texts that address violence and emotion in the Middle Ages.

Vengeance in Medieval Europe: A Reader

Edited by Daniel Lord Smail and Kelly Gibson

© 2009

How did medieval society deal with private justice, with grudges, and with violent emotions? This ground-breaking reader collects for the first time a number of unpublished or difficult-to-find texts that address violence and emotion in the Middle Ages.

The sources collected here illustrate the power and reach of the language of vengeance in medieval European society. They span the early, high, and later middle ages, and capture a range of perspectives including legal sources, learned commentaries, narratives, and documents of practice. Though social elites necessarily figure prominently in all medieval sources, sources concerning relatively low-status individuals and sources pertaining to women are included. The sources range from saints' lives that illustrate the idea of vengeance to later medieval court records concerning vengeful practices. A secondary goal of the collection is to illustrate the prominence of mechanisms for peacemaking in medieval European society.

The introduction traces recent scholarly developments in the study of vengeance and discusses the significance of these concepts for medieval political and social history.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • Series: Readings in Medieval Civilizations and Cultures
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 496 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 1.3in x 9.0in
  • Reviews

    The editors are to be applauded for their outstanding efforts to make so many relevant texts available. Overall, the entire period of the Middle Ages is well covered, and we can easily grasp the long tradition on vengeance going back to the Old Testament. This proves to be a very useful textbook that will allow new approaches in university seminars.
    Mediaevistik

    This rich collection explores one of the most critical and complex aspects of medieval social relations: violence and peacemaking. It goes far beyond most 'readers' to provide large extracts of basic legal and religious texts, chronicles, saints' lives and, most remarkably, extracts from manuscript archival court documents of the Later Middle Ages. It will be an inexhaustible resource for teachers, students, and researchers not just in social and legal history, but in the history of medieval religion and literature. The history of vengeance will never be the same.


    Fredric L. Cheyette, Amherst College

    The urge to avenge wrongs we think we have suffered is a human constant that is always tough to master. The ideas that helped the men and women of medieval Europe handle their neighbors without destroying their communities retain their relevance in a dangerous world. Vengeance is a very personal matter. Who has not had fleeting thoughts of divorcing his family or of flaying (literally) those who opposed him? To keep those thoughts inchoate, our medieval predecessors often resorted to violence but also crafted personal 'peace treaties.' Maybe we can learn from their own accounts, while we deepen understanding of their lives and culture. Smail and Gibson will delight readers struggling to penetrate medieval culture. We teachers extol to our students the joys and immediacy of primary sources. You should read your history raw, we say, forgetting how hard that is, how long it took us. Students will be thankful for the firm editorial guidance on what they need to know. Instructors will find themselves being introduced to texts they ought to have known themselves. Even the general reader can find instances of bizarre savagery and advice on life skills to shock us into reconsidering some of our modern stances. All will meet a splendidly intelligent selection of the writings that regulated tit-for-tat behavior, and which for the most part are complete and unabridged.


    Paul R. Hyams, Cornell University

    On the whole, this is the type of thorough and balanced sourcebook academics dream about.


    Susanna Throop, The Medieval Review
  • Author Information

    Daniel Lord Smail is Professor of History at Harvard University. He is the co-editor with Thelma Fenster of Fama: The Politics of Talk and Reputation in Medieval Europe (Cornell University Press, 2003), The Consumption of Justice: Emotions, Publicity, and Legal Culture in Marseille, 1264-1423 (Cornell University Press, 2003), and Imaginary Cartographies: Possession and Identity in Late Medieval Marseille (Cornell University Press, 1999).

    Kelly Gibson is a doctoral candidate in the Department of History at Harvard University.
  • Table of contents

    Introduction  

    Part I. Prologue: Sources for the Medieval Language of Vengeance

    Chapter One: The Old Testament

    1. The Pollution of Kin-Slaying
    2. The Law of the Talion
    3. Vengeance and Emotion
    4. The Principle of Sanctuary
    5. The Levite's Concubine
    6. Humiliation and the Lord's Vengeance
    7. Restraining the Vengeful Emotions
    8. The Vengeance of the Maccabees

    Chapter Two: The New Testament

    9. Peacemaking and the Ties of Kinship
    10. Humility as Vengeance?

    Chapter Three: Roman Laws

    11. Criminal Justice and Vengeance in the Theodosian Code and Sirmondian Constitutions
    12. Criminal Justice and Vengeance in Justinian's Digest

    Part II. The Early Middle Ages (500-1000)

    Chapter Four: Codes, Capitularies, and Penitentials

    13. The Laws of the Salian Franks
    14. The Lombard Laws
    15. Carolingian Capitularies
    16. Early Medieval English Law
    17. Emotion and Sin

    Chapter Five: Sermons, Exegesis, and Letters

    18. Augustine on the Legitimacy of Fighting Back
    19. Augustine on the Need to Await God's Vengeance
    20. Jerome on Kindness and Cruelty
    21. Law and the "Accursed Custom" of Vengeance in Theoderic's Italy
    22. Isidore of Seville on the Law of the Talion
    23. Pope Honorius Speaks of Justice as Vengeance
    24. Smaragdus of St. Mihiel on Restraining Royal Anger
    25. Hrabanus Maurus's Homily on Avoiding Anger and Homicide
    26. Einhard on the Fear of Family Vengeance
    27. Charles the Bald to Pope Nicholas on Vengeance without Violence
    28. Vengeance for the "Hard Man"

    Chapter Six: Saints' Lives, Chronicles, and Epics

    29. Jordanes on Vengeance and the Vandal Wars of Conquest
    30. Gregory of Tours on Feuding and Vengeance
    31. Gregory of Tours on God's Vengeance
    32. Vengeance As the Devil's Work in the Life of Saint Sadalberga
    33. Saint Amandus Rescues a Man from Judicial Vengeance
    34. Saint Willibrord Forgoes Vengeance and Anger
    35. History of the Lombards by Paul the Deacon
    36. Einhard on the Peace Inspired by the Relics of Saints Marcellinus and Peter 
    37. Saint Gerald of Aurillac Seeks Peace with His Enemies
    38. Liutprand of Cremona's Tit-For-Tat
    39. Heroic Vengeance

    Chapter Seven: Formularies, Charters, and Judgments

    40. Security for Peace after a Murder
    41. An Orderly Merovingian Judgment
    42. Lombard Notice of Judgment at Pavia

    Part III. The High Middle Ages (1000-1250)

    Chapter Eight: The Effort to Regulate Violence and Emotion

    43. The Peace of God in Charroux
    44. Penance for Homicide in the Decretum of Burchard of Worms
    45. The Laws of the Family of St. Peter
    46. The Penitential of Burchard of Worms
    47. Truce of God in Arles
    48. A Comital Peace Assembly of Barcelona
    49. The Truce of God in Cologne
    50. Peace of the Land in Mainz
    51. The Laws of Henry I of England
    52. The Usatges of Barcelona
    53. Rules for Trial by Combat in Brescia
    54. The Penitential of Alain of Lille
    55. The Penitential of Robert of Flamborough
    56. General Constitution Concerning Judgments and Keeping the Peace

    Chapter Nine: Sermons and Learned Commentary on Anger and Vengeance

    57. Aelfric's Sermon on Anger and Peace
    58. Wulfstan's "Sermon of the Wolf" on the Evils of His Day
    59. Peter Damian on Restraining Anger
    60. A Letter by Peter Damian on the Vengeance of Spiritual Leaders
    61. William of Malmesbury on the Consequences of Resisting Peace
    62. Pope Urban II Urges Vengeance on the Enemies of Christendom in Robert the Monk's History of Jerusalem
    63. An Account of the Speech of Pope Urban II by Fulcher of Chartres
    64. A Sermon by Saint Francis on Hatred and Peace
    65. The Wolf of Gubbio
    66. Albertanus of Brescia on the Cost of Pursing Private War
    67. Thomas Aquinas on Homicide, Vengeance, and Anger

    Chapter Ten: Saints' Lives, Chronicles, and Epics

    68. Rodulphus Glaber on the Truce of God
    69. How the Emperor Conrad Pacified His Realm, According to Wipo
    70. Adam of Bremen on the Attacks of Bishop Adalbert's Enemies
    71. The Cattle-Raid of Cooley
    72. Feud between Bishop Gaudry and Baron Gérard in the Autobiography of Guibert of Nogent
    73. The Murder of Charles the Good by Galbert of Bruges
    74. Peter Abelard's "Story of My Adversities"
    75. The Deeds of Louis the Fat by Suger of St. Denis
    76. The Vengeance of Kings in Geoffrey of Monmouth's History of the Kings of Britain
    77. The Bloodfeud of Meingold and Albric
    78. Hariulf on the Sweet Words of Arnulf of Soissons
    79. Chronicle of the Slavs by Helmold of Bosau
    80. Emotions among the Military Aristocracy in Raoul of Cambrai
    81. The Hatred of Kriemhild and Brunhild in The Nibelungenlied
    82. Parzival by Wolfram von Eschenbach
    83. Harald's Norway and the Flight to Iceland in the Laxdaela Saga
    84. The Story of a Feud in Njal's Saga

    Chapter Eleven: Peace Charters and Oaths

    85. Peace Oath Proposed by Bishop Warin of Beauvais to King Robert the Pious 
    86. Henry II Settles a Feud on Monastic Land
    87. Attempted Settlement by Combat
    88. Grant to the Norman Bishops of Fines Due from Breaches of the Truce of God 
    89. A Catalan Peace Settlement
    90. A Forged Immunity of King Dagobert III
    91. A Peace Treaty from Avignon

    Part IV. The Later Middle Ages (1250-1500)

    Chapter Twelve: Municipal, Territorial, and Royal Laws Concerning Vengeance and Murder

    92. Homicide in the Laws and Customs of England
    93. From the Sachsenspiegel
    94. Guarantees of Peace in the Customs of Touraine and Anjou
    95. The Law of Homicide in the Fuero Real
    96. Procedures for Private War in the Customs of Beauvaisis
    97. The Statute of Homicide of Marseille, France
    98. From the Statutes of Acqui, Italy
    99. From the Statutes of Apricale, Italy
    100. From the Statutes of Saone, Italy
    101. From the Statutes of Cuneo, Italy
    102. From the Statutes of Celle, Italy
    103. The Perpetual Peace of the Land Proclaimed by Maximilian I

    Chapter Thirteen: Ecclesiastical and Secular Commentary on Peace and the Restraint of Emotions

    104. The Nature of Wrath According to a Preacher's Manual
    105. A Sermon on Peace by Vincent Ferrer
    106. Laudable Anger in Leonardo Bruni's Handbook of Moral Philosophy
    107. Sermon on the Importance of Peace by Bernardino of Siena

    Chapter Fourteen: Saints' Lives, Chronicles, and Epics

    108. A vision of peacemaking in the Miracles of Saint Rose of Viterbo
    109. Ambrose Sansedonius's Preaching of Peace Arouses Enmity
    110. The Vengeful Miracles of Saint Bridget of Sweden
    111. Saint Catherine of Siena as Peacemaker
    112. Vengeance and Peace in the Life of Cola di Rienzo
    113. Dino Compagni on the Florentine Factions
    114. Trial by Combat in Froissart's Chronicles
    115. The Vengeance of Our Lord
    116. A Miracle of the Blessed Virgin Mary

    Chapter Fifteen: Court Cases and Notarial Peace Acts

    117. The Peace Registers of the City of Tournai
    118. Tura Ranerii, of Florence, Creates a Procurator
    119. Cases of Homicide in the Calendar of Coroner's Rolls, London
    120. Notarized Peace Acts and Related Acts from Marseille
    121. A Lawsuit by Nicolau Guilhem, a Cutler of Marseille
    122. A Lawsuit against Lois Orlet of Marseille
    123. A Lawsuit by Anhellon Faber, a Butcher of Marseille
    124. An Inquest into the Murder of Bernart Berengier in Marseille
    125. The Marseille City Council Makes a Ruling about Broken Sanctuary
    126. Ignoring Due Process during a Feud in the Paston Letters