The invisible poor in Norwegian and Danish town laws c 1200–c 1350

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The most vigorous period of urban law production in both Denmark and Norway failed to regulate urban poverty, in particular for those falling outside the groups that comprised the personae miserabiles, the deserving poor. A close reading of Danish and Norwegian town laws, in Latin and the vernacular respectively, provides an understanding of how poverty fitted into the social and legal system of the towns. A comparative approach reveals both how these regions embraced different strategies towards the urban poor, and how these strategies coincided with general European trends in different ways. This article argues that jurisdiction over the urban poor was not economically or administratively attractive, and thus neither the town nor the church wanted legal responsibility for them. Norwegian regulation followed a European pattern of combating urban poverty through legislation, whereas late twelfth-century Danish towns supported institutions to care for the poor.
Original languageEnglish
JournalComparative Legal History
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)4-22
Publication statusPublished - 2023

ID: 356421830