Michael P. Breen is the author of Law, City, and King: Legal Culture, Municipal Politics and State Formation in Early Modern Dijon (2007) and numerous articles on lawyers and legal culture in early modern France. In this talk, he will address the following question: “Historians have long believed that lawyers played a central role in the dissemination of legal knowledge and the ideal of the ‘rule of law’ in early modern Europe. Recent scholarship, however, has called this view into question, emphasizing instead the ways ordinary men and women appropriated the law and its institutions for their own ends. This talk will reconsider the ways legal professionals helped mediate the development of early modern legal consciousness by examining their activities beyond the courtroom and the identities they fashioned for themselves not as legal experts, but as intellectuals, literary figures, and political actors.
Sponsored by the Interdisciplinary Humanities Center, the Department of History, the Department of French and Italian, and the Early Modern Center