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  • Print publication year: 2010
  • Online publication date: August 2010

2 - CANON LAW BEFORE IVO

Summary

CANON LAW IN NORTHERN FRANCE TO THE EARLY ELEVENTH CENTURY

The previous chapter showed how far earlier writers depended on a general assessment of Ivo's character and sympathies in deciding which collections most closely reflected his concerns. A fuller discussion of his stance on some important ecclesiastical issues will be given in a later chapter. However, to assess Ivo's distinctive contribution, and the background of thought and reading which his work supposes, it is also necessary to understand the world in which it was born. For this, the present chapter discusses a number of canon law collections circulating in northern France, i.e. Francia and neighbouring regions, including here Poitou. As will be seen, this discussion would be impossible without taking into account the reception of Burchard of Worms, which in turn requires a brief look at the developments in the Empire.

The main goal of this overview is to understand the profound changes in canon law especially from the second half of the eleventh century onwards. This period is commonly seen as a decisive stage in the legal history of Europe; yet it would be dangerous to see the time before c. 1050 as one of stagnation before a sudden leap forward. As in many fields, the scarcity of sources from this earlier time should not be confused with stasis. The rapid development of the late eleventh century was prepared in the decades and centuries before and depended on earlier models. Indeed the tenth and early eleventh century certainly saw the compilation of canon law collections that were not only a stimulus to later collections but were often better organised.

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