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The implementation of canon law in medieval Europe: the case of Livonia, 1147-1300

Neubauer, M.-L. (2023) The implementation of canon law in medieval Europe: the case of Livonia, 1147-1300. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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To link to this item DOI: 10.48683/1926.00111425


This thesis examines how various prescriptions of church law were interpreted and implemented in the north-eastern Baltic region during the second half of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Contemporaneously known as Livonia, this region started to attract the attention of both missionaries and crusaders within the wider framework of the Baltic Crusades, and over the course of the thirteenth century, Livonia was consequently incorporated into Latin Christendom. At the same time, new and paradigm-changing canon law collections started to be compiled and widely disseminated in Latin Christendom. These law collections had a profound impact on everyday lives of Christians, including the Livonians who were converted. Despite growing scholarly interest in medieval Livonia, a comprehensive study of how canon law – possibly the most universal law of the Middle Ages – affected its conversion and subjugation, is still lacking. Drawing on a wide range of legal and narrative sources, this thesis offers a detailed analysis of specific themes that intersected with various parts of Livonian society. Chapter One focuses on early missionary activity through three key topics: baptism, marriage, and preaching and teaching. Chapter Two looks at how warfare that accompanied missionary activities was justified through the concepts of waging and conducting war. Chapter Three turns attention to the organisation of Livonian society by examining jurisdictional questions, the ways in which new laws were implemented, how investigations into local matters were conducted, and the system of rewards and punishments adjusted in order to conform to canon law principles. As a whole, this thesis demonstrates how canon law formed an integral part of the societal change that Livonia underwent when it was Christianised. At the same time, this study reveals that the implementation of canon law in Livonia affected the way canon law was formulated as well

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Rist, R.
Thesis/Report Department:Department of History
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > Graduate Centre for Medieval Studies (GCMS)
ID Code:111425
Date on Title Page:2022

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