Departments of History, Legal Studies, Sociology | Law School
Karl Shoemaker received a Ph.D from the University of California, Berkeley in 2001, and holds a JD from Cumberland School of Law. He is the author of Sanctuary and Crime in Medieval Europe, 400–1500, and numerous scholarly articles. He has been a member of UW–Madison’s faculty since 2002. He is currently researching the Devil’s medieval legal career.
When the Devil went to Law School (in the Middle Ages)
The devil enjoyed the most spectacularly unsuccessful legal career known to the medieval world. Whether litigating pro se or through his demonic procurators, the devil spent much of the late middle ages tirelessly asserting legal claims. Yet, he always lost. My presentation will examine the medieval texts which preserve for us this imaginary lawsuit, which circulated widely in manuscript form throughout Europe. Further, I will discuss the lawsuit’s implication for how medieval lawyers and theologians thought about the problem of salvation.
Approximate Length of Talk: 20 minutes to 1 hour – can be modified to fit needs of group