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Grant number like: FB-52349-06

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

Fellowships for College Teachers and Independent Scholars
Research Programs

$40,000 (approved)
$40,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2007 – 6/30/2008

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

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.