Book Series Arizona Studies in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, vol. 28

Law and Sovereignty in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance

Robert S. Sturges (ed)

  • Pages: xviii + 302 p.
  • Size:156 x 234 mm
  • Illustrations:13 b/w
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2011

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-53309-4
  • Hardback
  • Available
  • ISBN: 978-2-503-53945-4
  • E-book
  • Available

This volume offers an interdisciplinary collection of original essays by both new and established scholars that surveys the complex relationships between law and sovereign power in medieval and early modern Europe.


"The interdisciplinary nature of the collection provides unusual riches and a salutary reminder that legal historians are not, and should not be, the only scholars interested in topics of law and sovereignty." (Reviewed by Lorraine Attreed in The Medieval Review, 12.02.08)

"(...) l'ensemble constitue une série d'études de cas particulièrement fouillées, qui intéresseront les spécialistes des domaines concernés." (Jonathan Dumont, dans: Le Moyen Âge, CXIX, 2013)

"Meticulously researched and eloquently written, these essays are valuable contributions to the study of state-building, literary styles, and the development of law and legal institutions." (Carolyn Corretti, in: Sixteenth Century Journal, Vol. XLIII/1, Spring 2012, p. 173-174)



Sovereignty, law, and the relationship between them are now among the most compelling topics in history, philosophy, literature and art. Some argue that the state’s power over the individual has never been more complete, while for others, such factors as globalization and the internet are subverting traditional political forms. This book exposes the roots of these arguments in the Middle Ages and Renaissance. The thirteen contributions investigate theories, fictions, contestations, and applications of sovereignty and law from the Anglo-Saxon period to the seventeenth century, and from England across western Europe to Germany, France, Italy, and Spain. Particular topics include: Habsburg sovereignty, Romance traditions in Arthurian literature, the duomo in Milan, the political theories of Juan de Mariana and of Richard Hooker, Geoffrey Chaucer’s legal problems, the accession of James I, medieval Jewish women, Elizabethan diplomacy, Anglo-Saxon political subjectivity, and medieval French farce.

Together these contributions constitute a valuable overview of the history of medieval and Renaissance law and sovereignty in several disciplines. They will appeal to not only to political historians, but also to all those interested in the histories of art, literature, religion, and culture.

Robert Sturges is Professor of English at Arizona State University, where he teaches late medieval literature and literary theory.


Table of Contents


Introduction: Laws and Sovereignties in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance - Robert S. Sturges

Part I: Theories

1. Unjust Rulers and Conflicts with Law and Sovereignty: The Case of Gottfried von Strassburg’s Tristan - Albrecht Classen

2. Lawless Sovereignty in Sixteenth-Century Spain - Harald Braun

3. “Godes Lieutenantes”: The Augustinian Coherence of - Richard Hooker’s Political Theology - Torrance Kirby

Part II: Fictions

4. Sovereign Recognition: Contesting Political Claims in the Alliterative Morte Arthure and The Awntyrs off Arthur - Lee Manion

5. The Fart: An Anonymous Fifteenth-Century Farce from France - Sharon King (trans. and intro.)

6. Diplomatic Rumor-Mongering: An Analysis of Mendoza’s Report on Elizabeth I’s Audience with Scottish Ambassadors in 1583 - Retha Warnicke

7. “Withered Plants do bud and blossome yeelds”: Naturalizing James I’s Succession - Catherine Loomis

Part III: Contestations

8. Testimony and Authority in Old English Law: Writing the Subject in the “Fonthill Letter” - Andrew Rabin

9. The Prince and the Prostitute: Competing Sovereignties in Fourteenth-Century Milan - Martina Saltamacchia

10. Sovereignty of the People: Discourses of Popular Sovereignty in Renaissance Spain - Aurelio Espinosa

Part IV: Applications

11. Inheritance Law and Gender Identity in the Roman de Silence - Erika E. Hess

12. Inscribed Bodies: Feminine Legal Authority and the Medieval Reception of Holy Women - Adrienne Williams Boyarin

13. Cecily Champain vs. Geoffrey Chaucer: A New Look at an Old Case - Richard Firth Green

About the Contributors