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The Power to Judge: Jurisdiction in Property Conflicts in Thirteenth-Century Denmark

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Chapter Summary

This chapter examines jurisdiction in property conflicts in thirteenth-century Denmark, investigating who had the power to judge or settle these conflicts and how that power was used. In Denmark it was recognized that church courts had full jurisdiction over both land and chattel in conflicts over wills, and many conflicts arose from disputes over donations, whether they were made inter vivos or mortis causa. Even though a substantial proportion of the Danish sources from the last part of the twelfth and the thirteenth centuries consists of charters detailing land conflicts, not much attention has been paid to the legal questions. The charters reveal glimpses of how both lay people and clerics used the church courts and the law to further their own interests, and how in conflicts between a lay and an ecclesiastical party the outcome was by no means certain to benefit the latter.

Keywords: church courts; Danish sources; ecclesiastical jurisdiction; land conflicts; power to judge; property conflicts; thirteenth-century Denmark



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