Lawyers in Society, 1258–1558: The Private Lives of Medieval and Early Tudor Laywers and their Role in English Society

This new study seeks to enhance our understanding of lawyers and complement what we know of the professional legal world they inhabited by examining the social and economic context in which they flourised. It seeks to explain the contradictory attitudes towards lawyers revealed in contemporary literary works and in the attacks on judges and lawyers at times of political stress by analysing both their relationships to and in society and the perceptions engendered by activities carried out in their private (as well as professional) lives. It will examine evidence of their material culture, cultural pursuits, social aspirations and pretensions, as well as recourse to the law in their private capacity. Their role in local networks and with regard to the balance of power in local society will also be assessed. The two-year project (2007–09) is led by Professor Anthony Musson and funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.