chapter  13
12 Pages

Canon Law as Reected in the Ecclesiastical History of Orderic Vitalis

In discussing the legal norms regulating marriage in medieval society, James Brundage observed that they were both sacred and secular, “controlled in part by the legal norms and courts of the church and in part by the customary law of the earthly kingdom.”1 Though he was concerned specially with the “intersection of the two jurisdictions” in the Latin kingdom of Jerusalem, his comments could be applied to other aspects of canon law in the late eleventh and early twelfth centuries. While Orderic Vitalis would have been the first to claim that he was no legal specialist, he was too nearly concerned with the reforms that were gradually introducing changes in the Church and with the problems of inheritance and marriage experienced by the patrons and monks he encountered in his daily life not to include much that was relevant in his Ecclesiastical History. In several places he copied some of the canons of provincial and general councils; and throughout his work he unconsciously reflected the views of men, whether knights or monks, he met. So he gives hints both of the methods by which reforming canons circulated and of the leisurely pace with which changes in law and custom became accepted in Norman society. He wrote, in brief, at “the intersection of the two jurisdictions,” and because of this his book contains a certain amount of relevant information.