Law has been a primary locus and vehicle of contact across human history—as a system of ideas embodied in people and enacted on bodies; and also as a material, textual, and sensory “thing.” The seven essays gathered here analyze a variety of legal encounters on the medieval globe, ranging from South Asia to South and Central America, Africa, the Middle East, and Europe. Contributors uncover the people behind and within legal systems and explore various material expressions of law that reveal the complexity and intensity of cross-cultural contact in this pivotal era. Topics include comparative jurisprudence, sumptuary law, varieties of punishment, forms of documentation and legal knowledge, religious law, and encounters between imperial and indigenous legal systems. A featured source preserves an Ethiopian king’s legislation against traffic in Christian slaves, resulting from the intensifying African slave trade of the sixteenth century.
Editor’s Introduction to “Legal Encounters on the Medieval Globe” by Elizabeth Lambourn
The Future of Aztec Law by Jerome A. Offner
Land and Tenure in Early Colonial Peru: Individualizing the Sapci, “That Which is Common to All” by Susan Elizabeth Ramírez
The Edict of King Gälawdéwos against the Illegal Slave Trade in Christians: Ethiopia, 1548 by Habtamu Mengistie Tegegne
Mutilation and the Law in Early Medieval Europe and India: A Comparative Study by Patricia Skinner
Common Threads: A Reappraisal of Medieval European Sumptuary Law by Laurel Ann Wilson
Toward a History of Documents in Medieval India: The Encounter of Scholasticism and Regional Law in the Smṛticandrikā by Donald R. Davis, Jr.
Chinese Porcelain and the Material Taxonomies of Medieval Rabbinic Law: Encounters with Disruptive Substances in Twelfth-Century Yemen by Elizabeth Lambourn and Phillip Ackerman-Lieberman