Posts Tagged ‘medieval law’

Just over twenty years ago, I published my first article on a medieval topic.  It was in a very prestigious publication — a book commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the Cloisters Museum, and published by the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  But it fell into the pond of medieval scholarship with nary a splash or a ripple.  So far as I know, it was cited only by a Yale University doctoral dissertation about True Cross reliquaries.  What I attempted to do in this article (and in the talk on which it was based, presented at the fiftieth anniversary symposium) was to examine a True Cross reliquary triptych then exhibited at the Cloisters to see what it could tell us about attitudes toward law and justice at the time and place in which it was produced.  I was drawn to this topic when I first noticed the reliquary, with it’s central figure of Iusticia after taking Robert Somerville’s graduate seminar on medieval canon law at Columbia University.

Now a paper on a work of medieval art presented as a historian, and not an art historian, and giving little attention to its aesthetic value was probably bound to fall upon deaf ears in a symposium attended mostly by medieval art historians, and then published in a book written mostly by medieval art historians (and published by an art museum).   So I have not been terribly surprised by this lack of reception.  So I was pleasantly surprised last year to be contacted by a Belgian art historian who discovered the article and asked me whether I had written anything else on the subject.  Alas, no, I have moved on to other subjects.  But he has now sent me an article that he has just published in a French journal of medieval studies, wherein he picks up the topic where I left it, and carries it further.  In so doing, he gives me great credit for pursuing the topic in a new way.  The author is Philippe George, and his article is: “‘Sur la terre comme au ciel’ : L’évêque de Liège, l’abbé de Stavelot-Malmedy, le droit, la justice et l’art mosan vers 1170,” Cahiers de civilisation médiévale,”  56 (2013): 225-253.

As he says, my article “paru en 1992, … est resté curieusement sans écho.”  In a note at the end of his article, he quotes from my conclusion: “… more research into both the politics and the patronage of the bishops of this period is necessary for a better sense of who might have commissioned this reliquary and for what purpose.”   Philippe George has now done this, and I thank him for taking up this thread and stitching it into something useful.

My own article:  William Monroe, “The Guennol Triptych and the Twelfth-Century Revival of Jurisprudence,” in The Cloisters: Studies in Honor of the Fiftieth Anniversary, ed. by Elizabeth C. Parker and Mary B. Shepard (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1992), p. 166-177, can be found on Google Books, here:



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