Pub. date: 2010 | Online Pub. Date: May 06, 2010 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412958660 | Print ISBN: 9781412958653 | Online ISBN: 9781412958660| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Justice in Medieval Thought
Warren C. Brown
Throughout and well past the Middle Ages, justice remained a malleable concept that could connote general ideas of right or express subjective claims to compensation or retribution for injury. In concrete situations, disputants could and did exploit royal judicial institutions, or act outside of them, to achieve justice as they understood it. Nevertheless, by the end of the period, justice itself, as a specific duty and function of government, had come to reflect a divine and hence royal responsibility to uphold order in the public interest by determining guilt for offenses against the public interest and imposing the appropriate punishment. This entry describes the Roman roots of the medieval concept of justice and then explores its evolution during the Middle Ages. Although a view of justice as personal and subjective persisted throughout the medieval period, Christian models of justice also had an impact, particularly when rulers in the early Middle ...