11 August 2011

Law and Kinship: 1211 vs. 2011

History-Net has a review by Arlene Sindelar (University of British Columbia) of
Sam Worby, Law and Kinship in Thirteenth-Century England (Woodbridge, Suffolk, UK: Royal Historical Society/Boydell Press, 2010); 198 pp. $95.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-86193-305-1.
The Amazon link is here. A Google search on the book title turns up some other interesting reviews and comments. And I am very thankful for previews on Google Books.

My first response was that this was pricey for my personal library since I haven't traced any ancestors back to medieval England yet. But the reviews and the preview on Google Books make it very enticing. The nearest library with a copy, according to WorldCat, is 120 miles away in a location where I don't have anything else to do. My recent studies have focused on Spanish influences in historical Texas laws. Hmm, maybe reward points will bring this down to a price I can justify because I need to learn more about canon and English common law.

Any book that discusses kinship in this way will likely be useful to genealogists:
Kinship is many-layered. This book will descend through layers from the formal and written to the practised (p. 3)
...
an informal pattern of kinship knowledge existed beneath the laws (p. 4)
...
a way of thinking about and narrating bonds between people in terms of a recognised biological connection or analogy with biological connection. The term 'recognised' is used here because, for example, not all children are biologically related to both of their 'parents' (p. 5)
...
A particularly dangerous term in any exploration of medieval kinship is the word cousin since it can be used both specifically and vaguely to encompass a general sense of relatedness ... Cousin could be used as a word for almost any kinsman, but could also be a term of art (p. 6).
Its sounds like the theories and analysis presented in the book apply to kinship research today as well as in the thirteenth century and all the times in between. Aside from the introduction, conclusion, and a ten page bibliography that will probably cause more items to be added to my book wish list, the chapter and appendix titles are:
    Chapter 1: Canon Law Kinship Structures
  • Chapter 2: Common Law Kinship Structures
  • Chapter 3: The Dominance of Canon Law Kinship Ideas
  • Chapter 4: Kinship Laws in Practice
  • Chapter 5: Trends Underlying Legal Kinship Structures
  • Appendix 1: Raym√≥n of Penyafort's Quia tractare intendimus
  • Appendix 2: The historical introduction to Sciendum est
  • Appendix 3: Common law adaptations of canon law treatises Quibus modis
  • Appendix 4: Common law adaptations of canon law treatises Triplex est
Maybe I'll write a review from a genealogist's point of view after I read the book.

© 2011, Debbie Parker Wayne, All Rights Reserved

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