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Restitution: How ill-gotten gains produced public good in Late Medieval canon law

March 26, 2024

5:00 pm - 6:30 pm

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WCC 3008

This talk will examine how the Augustinian principle “Sin is not wiped out unless the ill-gotten gains are returned,” led to the development of a particular vision of justice and economic equity in medieval canon law. This vision held that every illicit form of appropriation and gain was an injury to equity and justice that was reparable only by means of restitution. Constituting both a form of compensation and an investment, this principle allowed to finance church buildings, as well as religious and artistic works. A typical example was the 14th century commission to decorate a chapel in Padua that the Scrovegni bankers gave Giotto so to return to the community that part of their wealth which was allegedly usurious.

Hosted by the Legal History Colloquium and the Early Modern Workshop in History at Harvard.

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March 26, 2024, 5:00 pm - 6:30 pm

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