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Grant number like: FT-56162-08

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Tracey L. Billado
Seton Hall University (South Orange, NJ 07079-2697)

Summer Stipends
Research Programs

$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
5/1/2008 – 7/31/2008

The Politics of "Evil Customs" in Western France, 950-1150

This project studies disputes in western France, ca. 950-1150 over so-called ""evil customs," which included various types of taxes, tolls, peasant labor-services, and rights of doing "justice." During this period, monastic scribes represented "customs" that their communities disputed as "new," "evil," more "oppressive," and "unjust" exactions, "violently" imposed by lay lords. Through an examination of the rhetorical strategies monks deployed in crafting their dispute narratives and by reconstructing micro-histories of these conflicts, this study reveals much--not only about monastic self-representations and actions in conflict--but also about landholding, violence, power, and the relationships among lay lords, ecclesiastical lords and peasants. The project uses an examination of these disputes to illuminate a customary legal culture in France, and from this vantage, critiques the dominant narrative of French history which represents this period as violent, anarchic, or lawless.