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Legal History and the History of Disputes

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Chapter Summary

Crucial issues in the study of disputes are treated in new and interesting ways. This chapter concentrates on the possibilities for comparative approaches to the study of dispute. Such comparison can now be pursued further through careful selection of comparable primary sources. An alternative form of comparison is between levels of society. A third axis of comparison is chronological. First, the best medieval accounts of cases tend to be extensive because the case was for some reason a difficult one: disputes where the issue was simple, and possibly most clearly determined by norms, would not be recorded, or certainly not recorded at such length. Second, different types of norm might be of different determinacy in particular situations. Third, even if legal norms do not determine the outcome of cases, they may determine what the parties do not argue, because any such argument would be trumped by appeal to the norm.

Keywords: argument; disputes; legal norms; levels of society; medieval accounts of cases



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