03 July 2012

NOTICE: International School of Ius Commune (Erice, Sicily), 5-11 October 2012

Ettore Majorana Foundation and Centre
for Scientific Culture

International School of Ius Commune

Directors of the School:
M. Bellomo – K. Pennington – O. Condorelli

XXXII Course, Erice, 5-11 October 2012

The Legal Status of Jews and Muslims in the Ius Commune

La condizione giuridica di Ebrei e Musulmani nel diritto comune

Director of the XXXII Course

John Tolan (University of Nantes)
Sponsored by: The Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research – Sicilian Regional Government – The European Research Council programme RELMIN: “The Legal Status of Religious Minorities in the Euro-Mediterranean World”  Catholic University of America, Washington D.C. – University of Catania –Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Imola


Utrum ritus infidelium sint tolerandi, asks Thomas Aquinas in the Summa theologica, “should the rites of infidels be tolerated?” He concludes that there are limited grounds for the Church’s tolerating the existence of non-Christian cults. First and foremost, Judaism: the rites of Jews prefigure those of Christianity and should hence be allowed to continue as a confirmation of Christian truth. As for other faiths, they may be tolerated for reasons of expediency: if it would prove difficult or impossible to prohibit those rites without provoking social or political unrest (in particular where these infidels are numerous).

Christian legislators and lawyers from the fifth century on created laws that regulated, protected, or in some cases prohibited, the practice of other religions. In this course, we will look at these legists attitudes towards Judaism and Islam. In order to prove that the Church should indeed allow Jews to practice their religion, Aquinas cites Pope Gregory I, via Gratian’s Decretum. This in itself gives an important glimpse at how authority and precedent are constructed in legal discourse. Yet the question of toleration and protection of Jewish communities is found in legal sources well before Gregory the Great, in particular in a number of fourth- and fifth-century imperial constitutions preserved in the Theodosian code. Popes, bishops, kings, counts, and city councils issued a bewildering array of laws authorizing Jews to live in certain areas, build synagogues, trade with Christians, etc.; other laws prohibited or discouraged certain kinds of interactions between Jews and Christians; in other cases, Jews were expelled from cities, counties or kingdoms. In parts of Mediterranean Europe, jurists posed the same questions concerning Muslims living within Christian polities.

By studying medieval legal discourse on Jews and Muslims, this course aims not only to contribute to the understanding of the history of those minority communities within Christian Europe, but also to reflect on an important dimension of the development of legal thought in Europe. The existence of non-Christians poses questions about the universality of Christianity and Christian law. Just as in the early modern period, European colonization of non-Christian areas provoked debates on the universality of legal principles (in the works of Las Casas, Grotius and others), in the Middle Ages the existence of non-Christians both within and outside of Roman Christendom affected the development of the Ius commune. We will play close attention to the interplay between theoretical discourse on the legality (or not) of infidel law and practice and the practical application of law in daily interactions between Jews, Christians and Muslims.

Lecturers and topics

  1. Paul Brand (University of Oxford, UK): Jews and the Law in England, 1190-1290
  2. Dwayne Carpenter (Boston College, USA): Separate, but not equal: Jews and Muslims in the legislation of Alfonso X, the Learned
  3. Claude Denjean (Université de Toulouse, F): Les juifs et la définition de l’usure dans le jus commune catalan (XIIIe-XIVe siècles)
  4. Johannes Heil (Hochschule für Jüdische Studien, Heidelberg, D): “Sicut Iudaeis” in the 11th century? On the origins of papal protection for Jews
  5. Emma Montanos Ferrín (Universidad de La Coruña, E): Moros y moriscos en los fueros municipales de Hispania
  6. Capucine Nemo-Pekelman (RELMIN, Université de Nantes, F) - Youna Masset (RELMIN, Université de Nantes): Le ius commune traitant de la capacité judiciaire des juifs dans les tribunaux chrétiens et sa réception dans la Catalogne des XIIIe et XIVe siècles
  7. Andrea Padovani (Università di Bologna, I): Diritto canonico, diritto veneto, diritto islamico. Incontri e scontri (secoli XIV-XV)
  8. Kenneth Pennington (Catholic University of America, Washington D.C., USA): Jews in the Medieval and Early Modern Courts
  9. Diego Quaglioni (Università di Trento, I): Ebrei e cristiani nel tardo diritto comune: il “judicium” di Johann Jacob Frey (1701)
  10. Jessie Sherwood (RELMIN, Université de Nantes, F): How canon law created religious boundaries between Christians and Jews
  11. Fernando Suárez Bilbao (Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, Madrid, E): El fuero judiego en los reinos de Castilla y Aragón (siglos XII-XV)
  12. John Tolan (Université de Nantes, F): Muslims as pagans, heretics, or Jews? The quandary of classification for medieval jurists
  13. Ragnhild Johnsrud Zorgati (University of Oslo, N): Intercommunal bathing in the ius commune and in the ius proprium of medieval and early modern Iberia

Persons wishing to attend the School are requested to write to:

Professor Dr. Orazio Condorelli

Facoltà Giuridica – Via Gallo, 24 – 95124 CATANIA, Italy

Tel +39.095.230417

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