Abstract and Keywords
During the central and late Middle Ages, European lawmakers and jurists began to make intensive use of the principles of both Roman and canon law in their legislation and court decisions. Embedded in these legal principles were ideas about gender that would have a profound effect on litigation involving women. The substantive law that emerged during this legal renaissance helped to define women's place in medieval society, but equally important were the new law's procedural rules, which allowed reputation to be taken into account in legal proceedings, thereby rendering women's self-representation critical in determining the outcomes of their court cases. An examination the interaction of learned law and community knowledge encourages us to see medieval women as active participants in their own fates, as well as in a major shift in legal culture that would shape European women's legal status more generally.
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