The Text and Textualization of Codex BJ 168: Legal Culture in Transition at the High Court of Magdeburg Law at the Castle of Kraków
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“Text and Textualization” examines the various symbolic and practical uses of a law book possessed by the High Court of Magdeburg Law at the Castle of Kraków through the entirety of its four centuries of operation. The essay contends that this book, now preserved at the library of the Jagiellonian University as manuscript codex BJ 168, played a vital symbolic role alongside its practical function. In the course of detailing these aspects, the study suggests that the multiple purposes for which the codex was used are illustrative of several aspects of the court’s peculiar culture during its medieval period of operation and beyond. Methodologically, the essay employs the notion of textualization as a tool for understanding what roles codex BJ 168 played in the context of the culture of the court and how its component texts represented different varieties of legal consciousness within that culture. First, the essay argues that the codex served an important purpose as a textualized object – as the symbolic representation of the Ius supremum Magdeburgense castri Cracoviensis and all that it signifi ed. Secondly, the codex served as an exemplar of ius scriptum – law literally textualized – that composed a repository of, and reference to, the law represented by the Ius supremum. The essay ultimately argues that the dual function of the codex, which dates to the court’s fourteenth-century foundation, points to the complexity of the social and cultural context in which later medieval legal development occurred. Indeed, this duality represents a general transformation in the broader legal culture of Latin Christendom – a culture that was marked by the coexistence of different perspectives in legal consciousness – and suggests that elements of both continuity and change can comfortably coexist within a legal culture over long historical periods.
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