Robert Rodes

title.none: Brundage, Medieval Canon Law (Robert Rodes)

identifier.other: baj9928.0507.005 05.07.05

identifier.issn: 1096-746X

description.statementofresponsibility: Robert Rodes, University of Notre Dame,

publisher.none: .

date.issued: 2005

identifier.citation: Brundage, James A. The Profession and Practice of Medieval Canon Law. Series: Variorum Collected Studies Series, vol. CS797. Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing, 2004. Pp. xii, 336. $105.95 0-86078-927-6. ISBN: .

type.none: Review

relation.ispartof: The Medieval Review

The Medieval Review 05.07.05

Brundage, James A. The Profession and Practice of Medieval Canon Law. Series: Variorum Collected Studies Series, vol. CS797. Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing, 2004. Pp. xii, 336. $105.95 0-86078-927-6. ISBN: .

Reviewed by:

Robert Rodes
University of Notre Dame

Among the subjects that Professor Brundage has addressed in his long and distinguished career as a medievalist is the profession of canon law. His inquiries have produced a number of articles, eighteen of which have been collected in this book. They come from venues as diverse as The Jurist on the one hand and the Zeitschrift der Savigny-Stiftung fur Rechtsgeschichte on the other, and from dates as early as 1973 and as late as 2001. He tells us that these works "comprise a set of preliminary studies for a book on the professionalization of medieval canonists that is (as academics so often say) in progress and that, Deo volente, may someday be finished" (x). They give us good reason to look forward to the book, and much to think about in the meanwhile.

Brundage finds the canonical profession taking shape in the late twelfth and early to mid thirteenth centuries, concomitant with the increasing complexity of ecclesiastical administration and the resulting proliferation of canonical texts. At the same time, the revival of civil law studies, beginning at Bologna, provided a structure for organizing the canonical material. Canonical learning could be the foundation of a career in ecclesiastical administration, in practice before the ecclesiastical courts, or in teaching the subject to others.

As canonical practice became widespread and lucrative, it came to be regulated in ways quite similar to the ways in which legal practice is regulated today. They were formally admitted to practice, and subjected to ethical principles that they took an oath to observe. Their fees came to be regulated, and provision was made for them to serve poor people without charge. All these developments are meticulously chronicled in the different papers in this volume. Some papers deal with the subject in general; others relate to particular courts-- notably those of the Diocese of Ely that sat in Cambridge--and the lawyers who practiced before them.

Brundage has an interesting and persuasive argument about the role of canonical studies in the development of medieval universities. He suggests that many universities started as places to study canon law, and that the liberal arts faculties may have developed from law students teaching liberal arts to support themselves. Similarly, he suggests that when studies at Oxford were temporarily interrupted due to town and gown disputes in 1209, displaced students were attracted to Cambridge--thus founding the university there--because of the ecclesiastical courts that sat there, affording employment to teachers and students of the canon law. Brundage presents his argument with characteristic modesty as well as characteristic erudition, and ends up saying that his case is strong although it cannot be conclusively proved. It would be hard to disagree with him.

The scholarship that has gone into these papers is prodigious. Statements are exhaustively documented, and often elaborated upon, in the notes. Work of other scholars is cited, described, and commented on. The whole body of material gives the impression of a large-minded participation in an ongoing enterprise which the author shares with many colleagues, living and dead.

The book is one of a series that Ashgate Publishing calls Variorum Collected Studies. The papers are all scanned into the book with their original format and pagination. Each is assigned a Roman number that appears on every page, so that the index can refer to citations by numeral and page. The index seems to cover the text of the papers well, without extending to the secondary source material cited only in the notes. A table of legal citations seems to go farther and cover both text and notes.