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Home  →  Maine  →  Abbot, ME  →  What was the life of a medieval lawyer like?
 
 

What was the life of a medieval lawyer like?

Answers (2):

1. cp_scipiom
short

the law was applied by either the King or (appointed by him) Barons
some other entities had also legal rights- to apply "high justice" (penalty death) middle justice (jailing) and "low justice" (fines)- eg a town council could jail and fine people but crimes with a death penalty had to be referred to a Baron or the King's court

some other entities could judge their own members (inclusive of death) but not "outsiders"- eg an Abbot in a monastery could hang a monk but not a "civilian"

it all comes down to one thing- the law was usually applied the way the chief judge saw fit. Any smart aleck lawyer "showing off" before a crowd would end up whipped or in jail
2. Ryan K
After the fall of the western Empire and the onset of the Dark Ages, the legal profession of Western Europe collapsed. No one in Western Europe could properly be described as a professional lawyer or a professional canonist in anything like the modern sense of the term 'professional.'

However, from 1150 onward, a small but increasing number of men became experts in canon law but only in furtherance of other occupational goals, such as serving the Roman Catholic Church as priests. From 1190 to 1230, however, there was a crucial shift in which some men began to practice canon law as a lifelong profession in itself.

The legal profession's return was marked by the renewed efforts of church and state to regulate it. In 1231 two French councils mandated that lawyers had to swear an oath of admission before practicing before the bishop's courts in their regions, and a similar oath was promulgated by the papal legate in London in 1237.

During the same decade, Frederick II, the emperor of the Kingdom of Sicily, imposed a similar oath in his civil courts. By 1250 the nucleus of a new legal profession had clearly formed. The new trend towards professionalization culminated in a controversial proposal at the Second Council of Lyon in 1275 that all ecclesiastical courts should require an oath of admission. Although not adopted by the council, it was highly influential in many such courts throughout Europe.

The civil courts in England also joined the trend towards professionalization; in 1275 a statute was enacted that prescribed punishment for professional lawyers guilty of deceit, and in 1280 the mayor's court of the city of London promulgated regulations concerning admission procedures, including the administering of an oath.