Call for Papers

Special Issue “Secular Law in a Religious Age: Later Medieval Europe (1200-1500)”

A special issue of Histories (ISSN 2409-9252).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 January 2022.

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Sara M. Butler Website
Guest Editor
Department of History, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, USA

Special Issue Information

Dear colleagues,

By the turn of the thirteenth century, across Europe, the church had branched away from royal justice to form its own courts, administered by university-trained clergymen, with its own unique set of laws and legal procedures. Spiritual matters (anything from fornication to tithes to testamentary procedure) were matters for spiritual courts; anything else was defined as a secular matter destined for royal/state or local courts. This Special Issue seeks to explore how definitive this separation between church and state was when it came to law and justice. Because of the inherent religiosity of the era, is it possible to call legislation issued by secular authorities in medieval Europe “secular”? To what extent did clergymen continue to play a supervisory role in the administration of secular justice? How deeply did canon law or natural law infuse the justice meted out in the courts of medieval kings and states?

This Special Issue invites reflections on the interweaving of law and religion in the administration and enforcement of secular law in later medieval Europe. We invite broad and varied interpretations of this theme, which may include (but are not limited to):

  • The interplay between punishment and penance
  • The role of clergy in the administration of secular law
  • Natural law and a defendant’s rights
  • Secular borrowings from canon law and the practice of the church courts
  • Christian ritual in secular law
  • Christian mercy by secular figures of authority
  • Criminal clergymen in secular courts
  • Christian justifications of execution
  • Explicit rejection of Christian tradition in the administration of secular law

Prof. Sara M. Butler
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are also invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Histories is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI. Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. All submissions to this special issue will be published free of charge. Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI’s English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • medieval law
  • crime
  • civil law
  • Christianity