Conflicts, Confessions, and Contracts
Elizabeth L. Hardman
Diocesan Justice in Late Fifteenth-Century Carpentras uses notarial records from the 1480s to reconstruct the procedures, caseload, and sanctions of the bishop’s court of Carpentras and compare them to other secular and ecclesiastical courts. The court provided a robust forum for debt litigation utilized by a wide variety of people. Its criminal proceedings focused on recidivist clerics who engaged in fights, disobedience, anti-Jewish activities, and sexual transgressions. Its justice varied depending on whether cases involved violence, sex, or contracts. The judge applied sanctions gingerly and protected litigants’ rights carefully, in ways we might not expect: his role was to intervene in, explore, and document conflicts, and to elicit confessions and mediate disputes. Participants exploited this narrative and archival space well.