A kiss of peace: alternative dispute resolution in late medieval Europe

Clare Sandford-Couch

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


The paper examines the use of the peace agreement as a form of conflict resolution in the late medieval period. In particular, it explores the content of such instruments of concord, their function, and the interrelationship of such private settlements with the legal system of the time. It will also consider how governmental authorities perceived and treated such private contracts. Peace agreements would seem to have been used particularly in societies where vendetta was prevalent, and the paper will focus upon the situation in Italy and southern France in this regard. Taking an interdisciplinary approach, the paper addresses these questions through a visual analysis of a painting, The Mystic Marriage of Saint Catherine (c.1340), which appears to be an artistic record of privately negotiated settlement. Thought to have been commissioned to celebrate the peaceful settlement of a feud, it depicts the former adversaries exchanging a ritual kiss to indicate the end to their hostilities. The paper argues that we can learn much about the peace agreement as a means of dispute resolution from the painting. In particular, it appears to symbolically suggest divine sanction for the agreement, and the paper will consider whether a religious element was an integral part of such contracts.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2013
EventSLS Annual Conference - Edinburgh
Duration: 1 Sept 2013 → …


ConferenceSLS Annual Conference
Period1/09/13 → …


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