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Native Law and the Church in Medieval Wales$
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Huw Pryce

Print publication date: 1993

Print ISBN-13: 9780198203629

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198203629.001.0001

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(p.130) (p.131) Introduction
Native Law and the Church in Medieval Wales

Huw Pryce

Oxford University Press

The relationship of Welsh law to the Catholic Church was characterized by co-operation rather than conflict. In terms of both textual production and legal practice, cyfraith Hywel relied — albeit to a greater degree in southern Wales than in Gwynedd — on ecclesiastical participation, which implies that at least some Welsh clergy held it to be a generally acceptable body of customary law. But this criticism seems not to have radically undermined the confidence of Welsh clerics in the law, for the compilations they copied and helped to compose implicitly reject any charges of immorality in their prologues, while giving at best limited and piecemeal recognition to the critics' standpoint regarding matters which excited controversy such as marriage and inheritance. There can be no doubt, then, that the clergy played a role in the production of lawbooks and in legal administration. The following chapters examine three topics that are dealt with in relatively full detail in the law-texts: offences by, and injuries to, clerics; ecclesiastical sanctuary; and the seignorial rights of churches.

Keywords:   Wales, Catholic Church, cyfraith Hywel, clerics, lawbooks, ecclesiastical sanctuary, seignorial rights, offences, injuries

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