I like history. in case I’ve never said that elsewhere, it’ something you should know about me. And the period I like most is the medieval one. Not really sure why that is the case, but ever since I first started reading about it, there was something which grabbed me. Any time from the period immediately preceding the Norman Conquest to around the middle of the 1400’s is my bag. And, in particular, I am more interested in the British Isles than anywhere else.

I’ve read a lot of books and articles about this time period and have just finished The Medieval Underworld by Andrew McCall, which takes, as you might guess from the title, a new look at the underbelly of society then. Fascinating stuff.

And, like I always do, i read through the sources he used at the back and make mental notes of the books I want to read. But one in particular caught my eye. It mentioned the Ames Foundation, which I admit to not having heard of before.

Which leads me to the title of this article. For the Ames Foundation is based in Harvard and has links with Boston University and, more importantly for me, it concerns itself with collecting and collating legal history. Imagine my surprise then when I found out that they have published (online and in print) many volumes of English Medieval Law reports.

“Oooooh. Wow,” I can hear you saying, totally underwhelmed by this news. But wait a moment! These law reports are fascinating stuff. They contain real people, with real names and real problems and issues which are an absolute cornucopia of plot lines and scandals for me to use however I want in whatever time frame I want.

People back then, just like now, argued about the most amazing things such as who was married to whom and when, or which person should be guardian of a child and why or, if two sisters had equal share of a property, and one of them rented hers out, and later sold it, should the other sister be recompensed in some fashion?

So many plots here! So let’s hear it for medieval law suits, the often anonymous clerks who wrote them up and the august institution of Harvard for compiling them.

We live in an age of wonder! 🙂

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