Junior Research Group

  • The new LOEWE Junior Research Group “Canon Law, Moral Theology and Conflict Resolution in the Early Modern Period” aims to investigate the role played by the Catholic Church in the settlement of disputes (ca. 1450-1650). An international team of researchers, each from a different disciplinary background, will investigate the impact of ecclesiastical institutions, canon lawyers and theologians on the resolution of conflicts in the age of the Reformations. The Junior Research Group wishes to contribute to the larger goal of the LOEWE-Project, i.e. furthering the interdisciplinary study of judicial and extra-judicial models of conflict resolution, by concentrating on a watershed period in the history of a judicial actor of paramount importance in the history of the Western legal tradition, namely the Catholic Church.

    The Project features a variety of approaches to “Canon Law, Moral Theology and Conflict Resolution in the Early Modern Period”. While the functioning of ecclesiastical jurisdiction will in some cases be studied primarily from an “internal perspective” (e.g. the judicial decisions of the Penitenzieria Apostolica in matrimonial cases and their reception at the local level), other projects take a more “external perspective” by looking at the interaction between the canon law and the “civil” traditions (e.g. the two-tier structure in the English legal system, long characterized by the division between equity and common law). “European perspectives” on the role of the Church in governance and conflict resolution in the early modern period will alternate with “global perspectives” that concentrate on regions outside of Europe (e.g. the Church council as an instrument of conflict resolution and policy-making in sixteenth-century Mexico). While many projects draw on archival sources that reveal the “practice” of courts and councils, the Project also allows for approaches of a more “doctrinal” nature, which analyze the “theory” of justice and law in treatises written by canonists and theologians (e.g. the teachings on commercial law in the so-called “School of Salamanca”).

    Through continous debate, team members will also try to address larger questions such as: How did judicial and extrajudicial modes of conflict resolution interact in the early modern period?; What was the relationship between “judicial practice” and “legal doctrine” in the age of the Counter-Reformation?; How did the jurisdiction of the soul (forum internum) relate to court practice (forum externum)? It will be the express aim of one of the individual research projects to discern larger patterns in the history of “Canon Law, Moral Theology and Conflict Resolution in the Early Modern Period” so as to increase our understanding of how this micro-history fits into the broader history of pre-modern and modern alternatives to exclusively secular and judicial models of conflict resolution. To the same end, the Research Group engages in permanent dialogue with researchers inside and outside the LOEWE Project “Extrajudicial and Judicial Conflict Resolution”.

  • Projects:

  • The Canon Law of Business: Theologians, Canonists, and Their Contribution to Early Modern Commercial Law (Wim Decock)
  • The influence of Protestant Theology on the Development of modern Contract Doctrine (Paolo Astorri)
  • The influence of Moral Theology on increase of the english equity law (David Harbeke)