Between the ninth and early twelfth centuries, judges in the Catalan counties of northeastern Iberia and Septimania adjudicated disputes using the Visigothic law code. These judges, who often lacked guarantees of litigant commitment to the judicial process, developed strategies in order to fulfill the code’s mandates and thereby keep courts functional. One such strategy was to place special emphasis on the procedural step of bringing witnesses and litigants to church altars to authenticate testimony with an oath. This practice transformed centers of worship into arenas of justice. Despite the prominence of churches in legal records and the importance of oath exaction to stabilizing particularly challenging disputes, scholars still know little about how exactly judges themselves understood the sacred spaces they used. Documents of church dedication (dotalia) offer a way forward. They reveal the close relationship between judges’ conception of these places and the broader regional attitude toward sanctuaries in the wake of the Carolingian liturgical reforms. This article explores the variety of ways in which judges participated at dedication assemblies, including as scribe, celebrant, builder/founder, and even liturgical commentator. Attention to such varied forms of involvement allows legal historians to nuance judges as a professional class and thereby to refine our understanding of the strategic resources at their disposal in the courts of post-Carolingian Catalonia.
Matthews, Adam C.
"Judges and the Creation of Sacred Space in Medieval Catalonia, 800–1100,"
Medieval People: Vol. 38:
1, Article 3.
Available at: https://scholarworks.wmich.edu/medpros/vol38/iss1/3