Friday, December 7, 2012

Robinson reviews Verkemaa, "Conrad Summenhart's Theory of Individual Rights"

New from the Medieval Review: Jonathan Robinson (Catholic University of America) reviews Jussi Varkemaa, Conrad Summenhart's Theory of Individual Rights (BRILL, 2011). Here's a description of the book, from the publisher's website:
In recent decades scholars have shown considerable and steadily increasing interest in medieval discussions of rights. This book aims to make a significant contribution to scholarship by providing a detailed and systematic account of Conrad Summenhart’s (c.1458-1502) language of individual rights. Starting from the view that Summenhart’s Opus septipartitum contains a carefully constructed and comprehensive theory of individual rights, this study analyses Summenhart’s theory in its historical context, treating it as a culmination of late medieval discourse on individual rights. This study is particularly useful to scholars interested in the origin of human rights language and modern political individualism, as well as to all those who work in the field of late medieval and early modern political and moral philosophy.
And here's a snippet of the review:
This book helps fill a large gap in our knowledge about the history of theories and theorizing about rights. Interest in "human" rights has grown steadily over the last sixty years or so, and it has been matched by a corresponding interest in the pre-modern (early-modern) history of 'natural' rights. Jussi Varkemaa's book on Conrad Summenhart (ca. 1458-1502) can be seen as another example of this trend. Its main value lies in the close reading of the first part of Summenhart's massive Septipertitum opus de contractibus pro foro conscientie atque theologico, which opens with a detailed analysis of ius and dominium. Varkemaa's bibliography is proof that not many scholars have tried to work their way through the Septipertitum opus, and the rest of his book is proof that Summenhart's views are well worth studying, both on his own terms and because of his influence on the School of Salamanca. We should hope for more books like this if we hope to press the case that medieval intellectuals played an important role in later thinking about rights. [footnotes omitted]
Read on here.

The Medieval Review also recently covered Fiona Edmonds, and Paul Russell, eds., Tome: Studies in Medieval Celtic History and Law, in Honour of Thomas Charles-Edwards (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 2011). Check it out here.