Title Background

Nede ne hath no lawe: The Pleas of Necessity in Medieval Literature and Law

Nede ne hath no lawe: The Pleas of Necessity in Medieval Literature and Law

Green contends that the maxim ‘Nede ne hath no lawe’ reflects a recognized legal principle in the Middle Ages — one that allows those who take for themselves the necessities of life in order to fend off starvation to go unpunished. There are clear signs of the operation of this principle not only in canon law but in customary law as well, and these offer a valuable corrective to those critics who are unable to believe that L can really have intended the figure of Need to offer a justification for ‘theft’. Green Argues further that the dispute between Morton Bloomfield and Robert Frank over the meaning of Need can be read as paradigmatic of critical responses to L’s role as social critic in general. (RFG)

Volume

Living Dangerously: On the Margins in Medieval and Early Modern Europe, ed. by Barbara A. Hanawalt and Anna Grotans (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2007), pp. 9–30.

Author

Green, Richard Firth