Research Programs: Fellowships for College Teachers and Independent Scholars

Period of Performance

7/1/2007 - 6/30/2008

Funding Totals

$40,000.00 (approved)
$40,000.00 (awarded)

From Gift to Contract: The Transformation of Medieval Property Dealings, Champagne, 1100-1350

FAIN: FB-52349-06

Richard Lewis Keyser
Western Kentucky University (Bowling Green, KY 42101-1000)

This project shows that between the twelfth and fourteenth centuries in northern France there was a dramatic shift in the dominant paradigms for exchange and conflict resolution, from gift exchange to commerce and from customary peace-making to formal litigation. Both changes had the precise, binding contract as their model. Focusing on changes in terminology used to describe pious gifts, land sales, and dispute settlements, I examine over 2000 documents from five institutions in or near Troyes, France. This project will help to illuminate a key period in European history, before the emergence of capitalism or the nation-state, when something like the modern notions of property and contract became embedded in social and cultural practices.