Dr Justine Firnhaber-Baker awarded French History Prize
June 5, 2013 Leave a comment
Dr Justine Firnhaber-Baker has been awarded the French History Article Prize for 2012 for her article ‘Jura in Medio: the settlement of seigneurial disputes in medieval Languedoc‘, published in French History 26:4 (December, 2012). French History is published by Oxford University Press.
Dr Firnhaber-Baker’s article addresses a major lacuna in the scholarship on medieval ‘dispute processing’, meaning the settlement and pursuit of violent conflict, usually by aristocrats. Although most of the classic articles on the subject focus on France in the high Middle Ages, there has been almost no attention paid to the later period, largely due to scholars’ assumptions that the imposition of state-sponsored coercive justice eliminated such activities. Focusing on royal judicial and administrative responses to seigneurial wars in fourteenth-century Southern France, the article demonstrates that processes of violent conflict and extrajudicial settlement actually remained robust in the later Middle Ages. The key difference in this later period was that royal courts and officers were now involved in the pursuit and settlement of the dispute through both judicial and extra-judicial means. Although royal involvement in extra-judicial settlements could be viewed as signs of royal weakness, in fact, it demonstrates the crown’s successful penetration of local power relations.