Evenings with History lecture to discuss truth and deception in early medieval law

Michael Heil. Photo by Lonnie Timmons III/UA Little Rock Communications.

The first Evenings with History lecture of the 2018-19 year will explore perjury, forgery, and other forms of deception in early medieval Europe. 

Dr. Michael Heil, assistant professor of history at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, will present “Truth and Deception in early Medieval Law,” at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 2, at Historic Arkansas Museum, 200 E. Third St. in Little Rock. Refreshments will be served at 7 p.m.

The talk will explore early medieval ideas of truth and falsity, the varieties of medieval efforts to deceive, and the methods used by legislators and judges to prevent deception and discover the truth.

Early medieval European legislators cared deeply about truth and worried about lying and its consequences. Perjury, according to a capitulary of Charlemagne, was “the worst crime,” while compilers of religious law warned that, in the words of the Book of Wisdom, “a lying mouth destroys the soul.”

Despite these beliefs on the merit of truth, deception was rampant at the highest levels of society. A majority of early medieval charters have been deemed forged or interpolated, and bogus legal texts such as supposed papal letters were confected in vast quantities.

The Evenings with History series, sponsored by the University History Institute, features presentations by UA Little Rock faculty members sharing their current research. Admission to the series is by subscription to the University History Institute, although visitors to individual talks are welcome to attend for free. UA Little Rock students may attend free of charge.

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