Monday, December 29, 2008

Briggs on Villeins' "Choice of Court"

Chris Briggs has published "Seigniorial Control of Villagers' Litigation Beyond the Manor in Later Medieval England," 81 HISTORICAL RESEARCH 399 (2008), available to subscribers to Wiley's Interscience here. Here is the abstract:
Medieval villagers were assiduous users of legal structures in defence of private interests. To enforce contracts against and recover debts from residents of other villages, rural plaintiffs had to prosecute in courts situated beyond the boundaries of their 'home' manors. The ability to sue elsewhere than the local manor court was thus crucial to commercial development in the countryside. This article explores the obstacles to such litigation, challenging the claim that servile villeinage acted to restrict villagers' choice of court. It lays the foundation for a larger investigation into the importance of villagers as civil litigants in ecclesiastical and royal jurisdictions.
Thanks to Rob Richards for the reference. Image credit.