Trial by combat, as instrument to settle accusations, has played an important role in the social life of West Germanic tribes from the very early stages of their history, and it remained in use during the Middle Ages. Considering the importance of this legally sanctioned duel, the starting point of the present study is a reconstruction of its history and development within the medieval judicial system. The progressive marginalization which trial by combat underwent during the late Middle Ages did not affect its representation in medieval German literature, in which it continued to play an instrumental role until the beginning of the 16th century. The manifold literary retellings of this motif, analysed in the second part of the study, provide evidence for its adaptability as a narratological device, but also for the slow decline of the very motivations which originally had been at the core of this institution. The literary evidences taken into consideration are made up of early courtly romances, poems belonging to the genre of the romans courtoises dealing with the Arthurian matter and post-courtly historical or quasi-historical poetry, which mark, in fact, the final stages in the development of the judicial duel, leading to its ultimate secularisation.

Il duello giudiziario germanico tra diritto e letteratura

SZOKE, VERONKA
2006

Abstract

Trial by combat, as instrument to settle accusations, has played an important role in the social life of West Germanic tribes from the very early stages of their history, and it remained in use during the Middle Ages. Considering the importance of this legally sanctioned duel, the starting point of the present study is a reconstruction of its history and development within the medieval judicial system. The progressive marginalization which trial by combat underwent during the late Middle Ages did not affect its representation in medieval German literature, in which it continued to play an instrumental role until the beginning of the 16th century. The manifold literary retellings of this motif, analysed in the second part of the study, provide evidence for its adaptability as a narratological device, but also for the slow decline of the very motivations which originally had been at the core of this institution. The literary evidences taken into consideration are made up of early courtly romances, poems belonging to the genre of the romans courtoises dealing with the Arthurian matter and post-courtly historical or quasi-historical poetry, which mark, in fact, the final stages in the development of the judicial duel, leading to its ultimate secularisation.
978-88-8467-370-1
duello giudiziario; ordalia; letteratura ; tedesca; medievale; Old High German; trial by combat; judicial duel
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11584/22254
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