Despite an unprecedented level of interest in the interaction between law and literature over the past two decades, readers have had no accessible introduction to this rich engagement in medieval and early Tudor England. The Cambridge Companion to Medieval English Law and Literature addresses this need by combining an authoritative guide through the bewildering maze of medieval law with concise examples illustrating how the law infiltrated literary texts during this period. Foundational chapters written by leading specialists in legal history prepare readers to be guided by noted literary scholars through unexpected conversations with the law found in numerous medieval texts, including major works by Chaucer, Langland, Gower, and Malory. Part I contains detailed introductions to legal concepts, practices and institutions in medieval England, and Part II covers medieval texts and authors whose verse and prose can be understood as engaging with the law.
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Candace Barrington is a Professor in the English Department of Central Connecticut State University. She has written multiple articles for journals and edited volumes and is the co-editor of The Letter of the Law: Legal Practice and Literary Production in Medieval England (with Emily Steiner, 2002). Sebastian Sobecki is Professor of Medieval English Literature at Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, The Netherlands. He is the author of The Sea and Medieval English Literature (2007) and Unwritten Verities: The Making of England's Vernacular Legal Culture, 1463-1549 (2015).
Part I. Legal Contexts: 1. English law before the conquest Stefan Jurasinski; 2. Languages and law in late medieval England: English, French and Latin Gwilym Dodd; 3. Canon and civil law Peter D. Clarke; 4. Custom and common law Paul Raffield; 5. Magna Carta and statutory law Anthony Musson; 6. Treatises, tracts, and compilations Don C. Skemer; Part II. Literary Texts: 7. Treason Neil Cartlidge; 8. Complaint literature Wendy Scase; 9. Political literature and political law Andy Galloway; 10. William Langland Emily Steiner; 11. Geoffrey Chaucer Candace Barrington; 12. John Gower R. F. Yeager; 13. Lollards and religious writings Fiona Somerset; 14. Lancastrian literature Sebastian Sobecki; 15. Middle English romance and Malory's Le Morte Darthur Corinne Saunders; 16. Marriage and the legal culture of witnessing Emma Lipton.
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