Tag Archives: Great Council of Malines

Creating convincing arguments in court

Banner image of two muses, Themis and ClioLately I was gently pressed to add a particular blog to my blogroll. I argued that it does not deal primarily with legal history, although it is in many respects a most valuable blog. Even after a second plea, accompanied with a nice variant on Ceterum censeo… I still stick with my argument, but in fact this blog had already been included in my blogroll…  On closer inspection of the links now present I also looked at the growing number of online journals in open access dealing with legal history. The latest issue of Clio@Themis [8 (2014)] deals with the history of legal argumentation, a theme which has had my interest since many years. I also spotted the announcement of an upcoming scholarly event in May on this subject. Nomôdos, the blog of Clio@Themis, is most useful in tracing new publications and announcements concerning legal history in France. Thus it is a source for my congress calendar, and of course it is listed in my blogroll. These two subjects give me enough materials for this post.

Arguments in courts

Clio@Themis is a French scientific journal with most of its articles in French, with abstracts in English added to them. The journal has a tradition of including as a bonus a French version of classic legal articles. Its latest issue called L’argumentation au cœur du processus judiciaire skips this feature. Seven articles deal with legal argumentation in court proceedings. Two other contributions are only loosely connected with the general subject of this issue.

Logo CHJ Université-Lille 2

Catherine Denys and Naoko Seriu introduce the theme of this number and elucidate briefly the subjects of the seven articles which originated at three days of scholarly encounters around this theme in 2012 at the Centre d’Histoire Judiciaire (Université Lille-2). They describe a shift from viewing legal argumentation solely as part of legal doctrine to an approach akin to the way philosophers, sociologists and linguists deal with speech acts. The history of the judiciary and legal practice is here the primary field of investigation. The use of arguments is seen here as a part of a strategy to get favorable results in court.

The focus of all articles is on three European countries during the Early Modern period, with the exception of two articles dealing with subjects from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In the first two articles the sixteenth century comes into light. Alain Wijffels discusses procedures claiming revisions of earlier trials at the Grand Conseil de Malines, the highest court of the Habsburgian Low Countries. The appeals for revision should be allowed in cases of factual errors (error facti) and in principle not for any legal error (error iuris), but in actual practice both kinds or error could be redeemed. The interesting thing is how lawyers at Malines argued about this state of affairs.

Marco Cavina deals in his contribution – in Italian – with the views of Carlo Ruini and Andrea Alciato concerning the different types of legal counseling in consilia. Alciato sketched a model with different approaches used by lawyers. Some went for subtle reasonings (subtilitates), others for the archetypical Renaissance – but essential medieval – abundance (copia) of allegations from Roman and canon law, and a third group imitated the brevitas of the classical Roman lawyers and their compact way of expressing opinions. Alciato frowned upon publishing consilia for several reasons, but his own contributions to this genre, too, were posthumously printed.

Isabelle Arnal-Corthier looks at materials sometimes presented to the Parlement de Toulouse in criminal appeal cases between 1670 and 1700. Instead of just a hearing of the accused for an appeal in criminal cases as punctuated in the royal ordinance of 1670 barristers often brought also a lettre de cassation to this court. The defense adduced in these cases mainly arguments about the competence of lower courts, insufficient evidence or irregularities during judicial procedures.

Yet another French court, the Parlement de Tournai and its third chamber in the late seventeenth century, figures in an article by Jacques Lorgnier who deals with cases concerning property rights and conflicts about the cost of church repairs. This foray into actual argumentation leads him to the hypothesis that the justiciables, the people going to court and their legal representatives, trusted the workings of rational arguments in the face of solid proofs within the framework of legal procedure.

Logo ADN

At this point I would like to mention the great resource created by legal historians at Lille for doing research into the history of the Parlement de Flandre. In the database ParleFlandre you can find more than 30,000 dossiers from the série 8B1 at the Archives Départementales du Nord (ADN) in Lille. Lorgnier uses cases from another series of dossiers at the ADN, the série 8B2. For the history of the Low Countries the archival collections at the ADN contain many important documents. At Fontes Historiae Iuris, the virtual portal at Lille to digitized resources concerning French legal history, is a section with further resources for the Parlement de Flandre.

Naoko Seriu looks at a scarcely known crime at the end of the Ancien Régime, the illegal sale of military goods by deserters, in particular uniforms. Records of trials survive in which individuals were charged with buying these illegal uniforms or the vendors themselves were charged with this crime. Seriu compares the verbal strategies used and the particular differences in approach to exculpate themselves. I could not help noticing that the examples of cases stem mainly from Brittany, in fact from just one modern département, Ille-et-Vilaine. A comparison with other regions might be useful. At the EHESS in Paris Seriu studied with Arlette Farge, a French historian who has devoted much attention to the way stories are told in historical sources, recently in Condamnés au XVIIIe siècle (Lormont 2013).

Forays into the twentieth century

Bruno Debaenst (Ghent) brings us from France to Belgium and much closer to the twentieth-first century. In his contribution (in English) he has studied trials concerning accidents during work in around Mons between 1870 and 1914. Using dangerous machinery, imperfectly prepared surroundings, shortcomings in labor organization, and workmanship not up to demands were among the arguments heard around these cases. In these years the Belgian code of civil law still was a virtually unchanged version of the French Code civil, with scarcely attention to actual circumstances in an industrial society. Debaenst describes also the use of reports by experts, criminal investigations and testimonies. In the face of inadequate means to deal conclusively with liability defendants had much opportunity to evade responsibility for what happened in their firms, thus reaffirming the gap between workers and patrons.

In the last article of this special Frédéric Chavaud brings us to familiar scenes from modern crime series on television. He looks at the use of emotions between 1880 and 1940 as arguments at the Cour des Assises, the highest criminal court in French departments. Tears, laughter and fear were not only used by barristers and defendants, but also by others in court. Studying the history of emotions is not without its pitfalls, and Chavaud rightfully points to some pivotal studies. He uses mainly contemporary public reports about trials, and not the actual dossiers of the cases. These reports do convey a vivid image or proceedings, but one can suspect that their authors also follow well-known tracks to please the expectations of their readers. Of course it is exactly important to notice such bias and detect changes in them. Emotions can and could break rational arguments and reasonings, specially when directed at juries. Chavaud clearly focuses on the contemporary perception of emotions, and he rightly mentions studies about emotions in court published between 1920 and 1940.

The range in time of this special is pleasing, from the sixteenth to the twentieth century, and we read about both civil and criminal law. The geographic focus, however, is on France, even when admittedly you get a most varied view of French legal history. Luckily the Low Countries, Belgium and Italy add a European dimension. Lorgnier is the only author to mention the use of topical argumentation. I am afraid it is not quite possible to expand here very much on any of the articles presented here. You can always wish for more, and therefore I invite you now to the second section of this post about a congress where you might pursue this aim very soon.

Studying legal controversies

Banner Rennes 2015

La controverse. Études de l’histoire d’argumentation juridique [Controversy. Studies on the history of legal argumentation] is the title of the coming Journées internationales, the yearly congress organized by the Société d’Histoire du Droit. This year’s congress will be held at Rennes from May 28 to 31, 2015 with the Centre d’Histoire du Droit of the Université de Rennes-1 acting as its hosts. You might want to have a good look at the generous links section of their website and at its own digital library. Rennes is the capital of the département Ille-et-Vilaine mentioned above, and participants might want to visit the Archives départementales. The call for papers is still active. Proposals should be sent before March 10, 2015, and this is the closing date, too, for registration (mail: shd.rennes@gmail.com). Rennes is well worth visiting, in particular for the building of the old Parlement de Bretagne. Saint-Malo and the Mont-Saint-Michel are not far away.

Young scholars, too, get a chance at Rennes. There will be a atélier doctoral organized in cooperation with the Association française des jeunes historiens du droit, a society of young legal historians founded in 2013. You can send your proposals until March 30, 2015 (mail: assofjhd@gmail.com).

The congress wants to approach controversies both as a phenomenon within the territories of law, be it the judiciary, legislation or doctrine, and as historical cases of conflicts about a plethora of possible subjects. What was the impact of certain schools of thought? Which impact had other disciplines on legal theory and practice? It is perhaps necessary to keep in thought that the international dimension of the Journées was and is traditional that of the French-speaking world at large, the francophonie. The blog like website at Rennes nicely mentions the exceptional use of English for any communication. In a region with many British and Dutch visitors one might expect the start of a change to that tradition.

This post with a French flavor should also remind readers from the Anglophone world that those speaking and writing English are not the only possible center of the world of science. It can be truly useful and illuminating to know about different approaches in other countries, to practice them yourself or to use your approach on foreign ground in order to see how universal it really is. Anyway, I have tried to convey something of my joy in discovering this special of an online legal history journal, and I might well do this here again. In my blogroll or for example at Nomôdos or the blog of the European Society for Comparative Legal History you can choose from many online journals in the fields of legal history.

Arguing the law with Nicolaus Everardi

In the early sixteenth century some changes become already visible in the way lawyers approached the law. Not only was there a growing interest in the history of Roman and canon law, but lawyers began to free themselves from the framework offered by these legal systems. One of the signs of this are the titles of legal treatises, the growth itself of this genre, and a more systematic approach of law. Nicolaus Everardi’s book on legal argumentation, his Topicorum seu de locis legalibus liber (Louvain 1516) is an example of this development. The book of this Dutch lawyer who presided the Court of Holland and the Great Council of Malines became almost a bestseller because of the reprints published everywhere in Europe. Printers in Bologna, Basel, Paris, Lyon, Strasbourg, Venice, Frankfurt am Main and Cologne printed this book until the mid-seventeenth century. I have found eight reprints of the first edition and eighteen of the second edition.

On the blog of the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Frühe Neuzeit Klaus Graf recently criticized sharply the new database Early Modern Thought Online (EMTO) of the Fernuniversität Hagen that enables you to search for editions of texts in the broad field of early modern philosophy and thought. The EMTO database notes in the search results the availability of online versions. In this respect Graf saw major shortcomings, because EMTO does not harvest its results from some of the major sources for early modern texts online. During my searches in digital libraries I have often looked for a digitized copy of an edition of Nicolaus Everardi’s book on which I wrote my Ph.D. thesis. Against all expectations it was EMTO that finally brought me to a digitized edition of the Topicorum liber, often printed with the title Loci argumentorum legales. More in line with Klaus Graf’s review is the fact EMTO includes only one digitized edition from a library where in fact several editions of it have been digitized, including the editio princeps of 1516. Graf ends his short review with recommending a search strategy. The German Wikisource website has a page on the creation of bibliographies and the collection of bibliographical data which amounts to a guide for searching digitized books. The proof of the pudding of a search strategy or a database is its practical use and effectiveness, so let’s proceed to test it for Nicolaus Everardi (around 1492-1532).

EMTO points to an edition of Everardi’s book made available by Google Books. However, a quick look at the book shows a shelf number and a book mark of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek in Munich. Google Books indicates more editions have been digitized, and it is strange EMTO does not include this information. Until recently the Digitale Sammlungen formed the only gateway to the books and manuscripts digitized at Munich. These rich collections contain digitized works of Everardi’s name sake, Nicolaus Everardi of Ingolstadt (1495-1570). The new OPACPlus offers more search possibilities than the Digitale Sammlungen. It appears not only editions of the Topicorum liber have been digitized but also his Consilia (Arnhem 1642, a late edition) and even four editions of the Synopsis locorum legalium, a reworking by Georg Adam Brunner (Magdeburg, around 1555, Darmstadt 1610, Ingolstadt 1643 and Regensburg 1671).

The Bayerische Staatsbibliothek has digitized the editio princeps of 1516, the reprints Bologna 1528, Paris 1543 and Basel 1544. A second augmented edition appeared for the first time in Louvain in 1552, posthumously edited by sons of Everardi, and the reprints Lyon 1564, Venice 1567, Lyon 1579, Frankfurt 1581, 1591, 1604 and 1620, Cologne 1662. Thirteen digitized versions is more than I could have imagined!

Searching Nicolaus Everardi

Which books by Nicolaus Everardi do you find following the bibliographical strategy recommended by Klaus Graf? I will use also Graf’s general Leitfaden, his compact guide at the NetbibWiki. The Karlsruher Virtueller Katalog (KVK) is the first major tool to use. This meta-catalogue searches in library catalogues and collecitve catalogues worldwide and increasingly indicates digitized books. To show its range and depth I will take the example of the edition Paris 1543, the only result given by EMTO. When working on my thesis I had only found copies of this reprint in Munich, one at the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, the other one at the other side of the Ludwigstrasse in the university library of the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München. The KVK shows copies of the 1543 reprint in Rostock, Halle, Dresden and Washington, D.C. in the Library of Congress. Somewhat surprising remains its absence in French collections. The German Wikisource has a fine list of digital collections. Searching in them will take more time, but is the obvious thing to do. To this German list I would add for completeness’ sake in the field of wiki’s the list of digital library projects on the English Wikipedia.

Let’s continue with the search tips of the Wikisource list. OAIster is since a few years integrated with WorldCat, an initiative to search in library catalogues worldwide. After having seen the results found by the KVK OAIster’s harvest is very minimal, just one book written by the Ingolstadt namesake of Nicolaus Everardi, and not surprisingly digitized at Munich. OAIster’s slogan “Finding the pearls” sounds a bit hollow to me. At this moment six of his works have been digitized. The Bielefeld Academic Search Engine BASE does find only these six works at Munich, because only the documents in the Digitale Sammlungen are among the repositories harvested by BASE. Using the Europeana library portal brings you to twenty results. Only one Munich copy of an edition of the Synopsis by Brunner is noted here, the six works of the Ingolstadt Everardi are present, and nine results from Munich specifically for my Everardi. The university library at Ghent has digitized the reprint Lyon 1579, and the Göttinger Digitalisierungszentrum the reprint Frankfurt 1604. Europeana finally shows bibliographical information for the reprint Bologna 1528, Venice 1539 and 1567 with images of the title pages made available for the census of Italian imprints of the sixteenth century.

The Wikisource list continues with a number of German tools. The BAM portal, a portal to German libraries, archives and museums, mentions almost 200 search results for Everardi, fourteen of them for Nicolaus Everardi, three for the Ingolstadt law professor and one for a Memoriale juridicum created by Georg Bucksulber from Everardi’s work. BAM finds the Consilia of the Ingolstadt Everardi (2 vol., Frankfurt 1603-1604), but not one digitized book for this test case. The list mentions ZEVEP which searchs in repositories and publishers’ catalogues, and the OPUS site at Stuttgart mainly presenting modern materials in digital repositories of German universities, with nothing for my example. EROMM, the European Register of Microforms and Digital Masters, does bring just one result for my case. The Zentrales Verzeichnis Digitalisierter Drucke seems promising. It yields all digitized books in Munich of my example, but it succeeds in presenting as separate objects the parts of the alphabetical index in the edition Frankfurt 1604 held at Göttingen. I will not tediously list all German catalogues. One of the more interesting is the Okeanos server of the library centre for Nordrhein-Westfalen and Rheinland-Pfalz. This centre has also created Digibib which enables you to choose libraries anywhere in Germany, to use it as a meta-catalogue for all Germany, or to use links in its generous link selections. The HEBIS portal from Hessen is leaner than Digibib but brings less search results for my case. Intriguing and frustrating is the link to a digitized manuscript of Nicolaus Everardi Ingolstadtiensis at Stuttgart, Württembergische Landesbibliothek, HB VI 15, a persistent link unfortunately not – or not yet – correctly resolved. Searching directly at the website of the Stuttgart library did not bring me to this manuscript.

The overview at the German Wikisource has not forgotten other countries. In passing the TROVE website of the National Library of Australia is noted. The clear presentation of the different types of search results make it certainly look like a kind of treasure trove, but it brought me for this very specific case only a few useful results. The Pionier portal to Polish digital libraries is in principle the kind of tool which should bring results covering many or all digital libraries in one country, but alas without results for my Dutchman. Wikisource continues with a brief section on digitized manuscripts, scientific journals and newspapers. The low rate of digitization in Switzerland is lamented, but to E-rara one can at least add retro-seals for digitized journals, the mainly Francophone RERO DOC digital library of the West Swiss library association, and for manuscripts e-codices. Dana Sutton’s Philological Museum deserves well-earned praise for his efforts to create an analytical bibliography and to locate copies of digitized books with texts in Neo-Latin written after 1500. As for now only the Ingolstadt Everardi is to be found here. Elsewhere Graf almost groans about finding out about the holdings of digital libraries in Japan, but here progress is surely possible as shown at the “DigiMisc” page of the NetbibWiki.

Some conclusions

Perhaps the Everardi case is too much a case of a rare book, a rather paradoxical conclusion for a book reprinted so often during 150 years and even having its own offspring in the form of a Synopsis and a Memoriale, but some conclusions seem clear. Using the major collective catalogues and meta-catalogues is indeed the best point of depart. The KVK and its sisters for theology and religious history, the Virtueller Fachbibliothek Theologie und Kirche and the Kirchlicher Verbundkatalog, combined with Digibib and the BAM portal, give Germany a very dense coverage. Given the fact that Europeana exists only a few year it is no wonder its results can sometimes seem meagre. Wikisource did not mention the European Library, the consortium of Europe’s national libraries. The Wikisource page does offer a useful general approach to digitized books, and not just a handy list for checking bibliographical data. The NetbibWiki, an initiative of Klaus Graf, offers far more detailed pages on many aspects of libraries and digital collections, for example for incunabula. It helped me very much creating my own page on digital libraries with a focus on law and legal history.

To me the best practice seems to start using the major meta-catalogues, such as the KVK, Melvyl (California), the Belgian LIBIS networkURBS and maybe the Vatican Library as a class of its own, then to go to the large digital libraries and specific national digitization projects, and finally to use the collections assembled for the field of legal history, history and law. This is a world awaiting to be conquered, and surely searching digitized materials will still consume time. However, taking into account this triple approach means also you are following the path set out by Everardi who discussed among his forms of legal argumentation a enumeratione partium, “from counting the parts”.

A postscript

Klaus Graf points at his blog Archivalia to a list of French digital libraries at Bibliopedia. Karen Reeds points to the Internet Archive, only briefly mentioned in the list on Wikisource. It contains a growing number of books from American and Canadian libraries, and the search possibilities of the Internet Archive deserve close attention.

For old juridical books it is never too late to check the holdings of the Max-Planck-Institut für europäische Rechtsgeschichte in Frankfurt am Main and this institute’s catalogues of old editions created by Douglas Osler. National bibliographies, bibliographies of legal books – e.g. the Bibliography of Early American Law by Morris L. Cohen (6 vol., Buffalo, N.Y., 1998; supplement 2003) – and special bibliographies for old editions, some of them online such as the Short Title Catalogue Netherlands, the Short Title Catalogus Vlaanderen for Flanders, the German VD16, VD17 and VD 18 (with digitized copies), the English Short Title Catalogue, the Italian EDIT16 and the Catálogo Colectivo de Patrimonio Bibliográfico Español, should not be forgotten. Book History Online is a database of the Dutch Royal Library in which you can search for bibliographical literature.

An old boundary

What happened to the walking historian? Lately I did not often go for a walk. During springtime I made several long walks, and I promised to keep a story about one of these walks in stock.

In February Janjaap Luijt published a short note ‘De leeuwenpaal: grensconflicten tussen Utrecht en Holland’ (The lion’s post: boundary conflicts between Utrecht and Holland) in the journal Oud-Utrecht 81 (2010) 10-11, the first of a series of short articles on boundary-posts in this journal of the historical society for Utrecht Oud-Utrecht. On the cover of this issue two men pose in historical costumes in front of one of the old boundary-post discussed by Luijt.

An old boundar-post along the Hollandsche Rading

An old boundary-post along the Hollandsche Rading

I would like to add some information to Luijt’s article which clearly was meant to introduce the subject and to point to the present situation of these objects. Luijt sketches their history. The sixteenth-century posts were renewed in 1719, and eight of them again in 1925. Luijt mentions the 1531 peace treaty on the boundary between Utrecht and Holland. The Great Council of Malines also had to give judgment about the exact boundary. J.M.I. Koster-van Dijk published Gooilanders voor de Grote Raad 1470-1572 (Amsterdam 1979) in which she dealt with all cases brought before this court concerning the Gooiland, the most eastern part of the medieval county of Holland. Many historians have written about Gooiland.  On May 21, 1541 the Great Council pronounced an important verdict on the disputed boundary between Utrecht and Holland.

The boundary-post on the picture I took in early spring is situated at the Hollandsche Rading, a field name which literally means “The boundary of Holland”, a straight line in the landscape, nowadays part of the border between the provinces of Utrecht and North-Holland. The forest in the background is called Einde Gooi, “The End of Gooi”.

A team lead by Thom de Smidt and the late Jan van Rompaey published six volumes with calendars of the verdicts given by the Great Council of Malines between 1465 and 1581. In the fourth volume of the Chronologische lijsten van de geëxtendeerde sententiën (…) Grote Raad van Mechelen (Brussels 1985) it is indicated at no. 11 that several dossiers of one of the highest courts of the Low Countries refer to the 1541 case. The Werkgroep Grote Raad van Mechelen, the team of legal historians that has done so much to enlarge knowledge about the Great Council of Malines, published several books on cities, regions and even one on a country and their cases decided at Malines, for Haarlem, Amsterdam, Leiden, Gooiland, Delfland – the region around Delft – and Portugal. Checking the inventories of archival collections at Het Utrechts Archief made it clear that one could harvest also a nice number of cases concerning the city and diocese of Utrecht. Due to the renovation of the main Utrecht archive building it will not be easy to do research on the history of Utrecht in the near future. As always, some sensible planning and patience will help more than complaining about this situation. For this posting on boundary-posts it is clear how the presence of these historical objects can make one curious to know more about the history to which they refer.

Centers of legal history: Leiden

A fortnight ago I wrote about Frits Grapperhaus, the deceased Leiden specialist of the history of taxation. At the very moment that I would like to write about Leiden as a center of legal history another scholar from its university has died, Pieter Willem Pestman. Today Gregg Schwendner, the creator of the blog What’s New in Papyrology, notes the obituary and bibliography on the website of the Leids Papyrologisch Instituut. No doubt this obituary will be translated into English.

Teaching and research at the Leiden department for legal history has three general focuses, the history of Roman law, European private law and European public law. However, some more specific themes are forever associated with research by scholars from Leiden. Eduard Maurits Meijers (1880-1954) is famous as the scholar who almost single handed started modern research into the legal doctrines developed at the medieval university of Orleans. His personal library included many early printed books and manuscripts. For many years the department was housed at the Gravensteen, the former county and city prison. Meijers’ books were kept separately in a special room. Nowadays these books and his collection of manuscripts are kept at Leiden University Library. Mentioning medieval legal manuscripts and Leiden must include the yearly Friday privatissimum, the special seminar in which paleographers and legal historians decipher and study together medieval manuscripts with juridical texts.

The Gravensteen, Leiden

Not just medieval law is studied at Leiden. Hugo Grotius gets deservedly attention as one of the most distinguished scholars of the Dutch Golden Age, and not just from the viewpoint of Dutch legal history. A juridical court, the Great Council of Malines, has been the focus of a project which touched both learned law and institutional history. Many sources for Dutch legal history have been studied and edited by scholars from Leiden. And how can one write about legal history at Leiden without due reference to the ongoing research into the history and the influence of Roman law? You do not have to agree with the idea that Roman law can immediately contribute to the creation of modern European supranational law in a kind of renewal of the 19th century Pandektistik, but you cannot ignore Roman law if you study for instance the new Dutch Burgerlijk Wetboek which shows more influence from Roman law than Meijers,  initially charged with the drawing of this new code of civil law, had in mind.

It is difficult for me not to expand all this information or just to mention more legal historians, for example those who studied at Leiden and now work elsewhere. One should of course refer to the Tijdschrift voor Rechtsgeschiedenis. Today one has to remember those scholars no longer with us. However, let me at least thank legal historians working or trained at Leiden for all encouragements, constructive criticism and kind help given since many years to me and many others.

See for an interview with Pieter Willem Pestman the article by Boudewijn Sirks and Bernard Stolte, ‘ Piet Pestman: interview met een papyroloog tussen mens en recht in het oude Egypte’, in: Prominenten kijken om. Achttien rechtsgeleerden uit de Lage Landen over leven, werk en recht, Theo Veen et alii (edd.) (Hilversum 2004 (= Pro Memorie 6 (2004)) 347-359.