IMC 2008: Sessions

Session 317: Nature and the Lawbook: Legalising Nature

Monday 7 July 2008, 16.30-18.00

Moderator/Chair:Danielle Marianne Westerhof, School of Historical Studies, University of Leicester
Paper 317-aJurisdiction and Nature in Early Medieval Bavaria
(Language: English)
Leanne Good, Department of History, University of California, Los Angeles
Index terms: Geography and Settlement Studies, Hagiography, Law, Mentalities
Paper 317-bSheep, Dogs, and Whales: Nature and its Lexicon in the Faroese Legal Texts of the Middle Ages
(Language: English)
Chiara Benati, Università degli Studi di Genova
Index terms: Language and Literature - Scandinavian, Law
Paper 317-cTalk about Taming Nature: Liable and Immune Animals in Early Irish Law
(Language: English)
Riitta Latvio, Department of Comparative Religion, University of Helsinki
Index terms: Language and Literature - Celtic, Law

Paper -a:
What constituted nature in the medieval world: a cultivated field?
Uncleared land? ‘Wastelands’ and ‘deserts’ mentioned in the sources frequently turn out to be inhabited by established populations of people, practicing agriculture. These phrases often seem to mean that a region was either not governed, or not Christianised. Focusing on 8th and 9th-century Bavaria through law codes and hagiographical accounts, this paper examines the concepts of jurisdiction and nature, investigating the terms used to express controlled and uncontrolled environments in order to define what constituted the parameters for the perception of nature in this changing frontier of the Carolingian world.
Paper -b:
The legal text containing the special enactment (réttabót) for the Faroes issued in 1298 by the Norwegian Duke Hákon Magnússon constitutes one of the most important sources for medieval Faroese. This legal text, usually known as Seyðabræv (‘Sheep Letter’), because it deals mainly with sheep farming.
In this paper I will conduct a lexical analysis on the representation of the natural world and the animal population in the Faroe Islands both in the Seyðabræv and in another, later, legal document containing a series of regulations about dogs in the various villages (Hundabræv).
Paper -c:
‘How is liability fastened by oath on bees, since it is impossible to recognise one of them from another?’ According to early Irish law animals might be held liable for offences. While certain species were liable for the offences of their owner or answered for those of their own, some were always immune. This immunity was denoted by the words neimed and deorad, both terms which drew some of the basic most distinctions with regard to early Irish society. My paper will consider the ways social conceptions were extended to apply to the interface between culture and nature.