Over 27-29 June, the Institute of Legal and Constitutional Research at the University of St Andrews hosted a conference entitled “Living with the Law: Society and Legal Disputes, c. 1200-1700”.
Over these days an excellent conference unfolded, leading to interesting discussions and developing new relationships. Ably organised by two research students at St Andrews, (now Dr) Will Eves and Sarah White, the conference explored the theme through a number of papers by research students, early career researchers, and established and senior scholars, with plenary lectures by Dr Paul Brand (“The Law and Social Mobility in Thirteenth-Century England: The Case of the Weyland Family”) and Professor Sir John Baker (“1616: ‘A Year Consecrate to Justice'”). As ever, such a mixture of junior and senior researchers proved very fruitful. Panels covered “The Manipulation of Legal Process in High Medieval Europe” (Felicity Hill, Kenneth Duggan, and Cory Hitt, chaired by William Ian Miller), “Legal Interpretation and Theory” (Danica Summerlin, Joanna McCunn, and Lorenzo Moniscalco, chaired by Emanuele Conte), “Edinburgh Law Session” (Hector MacQueen and John W. Cairns, chaired by Colin Kidd), “Law and Legal Practice in Early Modern Europe” (Kelsey Jackson-Williams, Julia Kelso, and Saskia Limbach, chaired by Magnus Ryan), “Lordship, Loyalty and the Law” (Matt McHaffie and Josh Hey, chaired by George Garnett). John Hudson, William Ian Miller, and Magnus Ryan led a roundtable discussion, followed by a closing summary by Caroline Humfress.
The conference explored themes of historiography, law and history, with an especially rich medieval focus, covering common law and ius commune. Especially strong was the intellectual theme of how individuals used law to achieve specific ends.
As well as dinner at the Byre Theatre, the conference included a chance to see the Marchmont MS of Regiam Majestatem recently acquired by St Andrews, and some other treasures and interesting items from Special Collections.