A Law unto Himself: Tristanian Jurisprudence in Gottfried's Tristan

Goldblatt, Noah Dylan, German - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
McDonald, William, Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures, University of Virginia
Bennett, Benjamin, Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures, University of Virginia
Spearing, Anthony, Department of English, University of Virginia
Ogden, Amy, Department of French Language and Literatures, University of Virginia

This dissertation analyzes literary jurisprudence in Gottfried’s Tristan and explicates the poem as an exemplar of Grimm’s theory of medieval law-poetry. This study examines how Gottfried dramatizes the institutions and practices of law, such as feudal tenure, judicial combat, and evidentiary debate. Chapter One traces the history of Gottfried’s Tristan as an object of study for law-in-literature research. The chapter also analyzes the poet’s relationship to and distinction from the Arthurian tradition. Chapter Two investigates legal discourse relating to the intersection of geography and authority in the poem. The chapter explicates scenes related to property transmission and contractual obligations. Chapter Three examines the juridical language and logical structures of judicial duels in the cases of Morgan and Morold. Chapter Four discusses the scrutiny of direct and indirect evidence in three scenes: The Seneschal and the Dragon Tongue, Isolde and the Sword Splinter, and the Flour on the Floor. The fourth chapter also elucidates the manner in which Tristan and Isolde rhetorically manipulate the presentation of evidence in order to deceive King Mark and his surrogates, Marjodoc and Melot. In sum, this dissertation argues that Gottfried’s juridical language gives definition to a model of jurisprudence characterized by legal efficacy, rational thought, and individual judgement.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
German literature, Gottfried von Strassburg, Gottfried, Tristan, Isolde, Arthurian, Arthurian Romance, law in literature, law and literature, legal history, feudal society, dispute resolution, dispute institution, judicial duel, judicial combat, jurisprudence, geography, feudal tenure, lordship, lawspeaker, Middle High German, literary jurisprudence, poetry, alliteration, rhyme, repetition, Grimm, law-poetry, Jacob Grimm, property, inheritance, moveable property, immoveable property, territorial power, Mittelhochdeutsch, Gottfried von Straßburg, Sachsenspiegel, Schwabenspiegel, Mirror of the Saxons, Mirror of the Swabians, literary jurisprudence, Wolfram von Eschenbach, Hartmann von Aue, Tristrams saga, Chrétien de Troyes, Chrétien, Thomas, Thomas of Britain, Rechtsdiskurs, Rechtsquelle, Weistum, codification, Gottesurteil, ordeal, trial by fire, trial by combat, divine judgement, judgement, evidence, rhetoric, legal debate, debate, fiefdom, fief, fealty, oath of fealty, co-regency, contracts, contractual obligation, Mitregentschaft, erbe, order of succession, Morgan, Morold, Marjodoc, Melot, Marke, Minnegrotte, Cave of Lovers, dragon tongue, flour on the floor, sword splinter, direct evidence, witness testimony, material evidence, indirect evidence, circumstantial evidence, inferential evidence, duel, feud, revenge, blood revenge, Blutrache, contingency, huote excursus, surveillance, espionage, trickster, deception, equivocation, Eisenprobe, rationality, divine justice, justice, reht, recht, banishment, exile, outlaw, outlawry, affair, adultery, interdisciplinary, egg, metaphor, falconry, poethics, juridical, medieval, high middle ages
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