University of Kentucky
President: Joseph H. Lynch, Ohio
Friday, October 21, 1983
8:30 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Saturday, October 22, 1983
Registration: 8:30 - 11:00 a.m. Lobby Student Center.
Session: Student Center Theatre. 9:30 - 11:30 a.m.
and Business Meeting. Student Center 206. 12:00 - 1:30
Session: Student Center Theatre. 2:00 - 4:00 p.m.
Spindletop Hall. 6:30 - 9:00 p.m. Bus transportation will be
If you are to enjoy the minutes this year, I must seize your benevolence and stroke it with care, for I am in special need of a sympathetic audience this time. Therefore I am going to take you into my confidence at the outset and confess that the premise for our minutes is not my own, but was supplied by last year's distinguished speaker, George Cuttino, who suggested that some fun might be had from the names of those royal writs that are such a familiar feature of English legal history.
After rummaging around in various brevaria, I have discovered that this is easier said than done, since the language of torts and crimes is only occasionally appropriate to our stolidly law abiding proceedings. I could, of course, invent new writs to serve our needs: for example, a plausible one might bear the incipit Luxuriosus. But if I am to limit myself to authentic products of the royal chancery, then I must take care not to disappear into some of the more obscure thickets of pedantry. Thus it seems best to take a more tentative approach. I shall accordingly ask you to join me in meeting Cuttino's challenge, as it were, and as we proceed through the official narrative of our last meeting, I shall pause from time to time to suggest that this writ or or that might be applicable. For instance, in explaining Cuttino's premise to you, am I not answering the question Quo warranto?
To proceed, then. Many writs might serve to summon us to an assembly, but since we were delivered from our dismal classrooms and cell-like studies to appear in Lexington before our president, Joseph Lynch, the proper writ would seem to be the best known of all--Habeas corpus.
But no writ can express your secretary's surprise at finding that the sleepy center of Lexington had been transformed into a sprawling Civic Center dominated by our hotel, the towering Radisson Plaza--with prices to match. A brisk walk through the blighted, and hence still attractive, parts of Lexington brought us to the campus of the University of Kentucky, where we spent the day in the labyrinths of an oft-enlarged Student Center. As is customary, we were welcomed by an eminent official, in this case the dean of the graduate school, who proved to be a canny good ol' boy. Since we were at this stage in effect a captive audience, the proper formula for the proceedings should be Capias ad audiendum.
Then, under the chairmanship of Steve Rowan, we settled down to enjoy the morning session, which offered three papers that were, to say the least, stimulating. First, Kathleen Mitchell (Purdue) argued that Gregory of Tours drew his famous portrait of Clovis as a moral exemplum for later Merovingians--a thesis that neatly fits the writ De bono et malo. Next, Clair Solt (Lincoln University) explained how a monastery could secure a monopoly on the cult of a given Romanesque saint by preserving his body intact. Inasmuch as this paper, entitled "Relics and Reliquaries on the Road to Santiago," was substituted for the announced topic, namely "Riots and Relics: Of Irrational Group Behavior in Byzantium," we have a clear case for the writ Error coram vobis. Finally, Marcia Colish (Oberlin), in a paper entitled "Why Peter Lombard?," analyzed the extraordinary qualities that made the Master of Sentences so popular with his contemporaries; another writ can serve to summarize her argument: De rationabili parte bonorum. Eventually the approach of lunchtime caused Chairman Rowan to suspend the lively discussion that followed these papers. In such a case, a writ to stay the proceeding would lie, to wit, Supersedeas.
A surprisingly good lunch was followed by the predictably dull business meeting, though President Joe Lynch did what he could to enliven it by announcing that, in lieu of the annual minutes, the secretary would take off his clothes. I, however, refrained, fearing that any attempt to oblige would be restrained Vi et armis.
A few minutes later, the nominations committee, impersonated by Tim Runyan, proposed the following officers for next year: president: John Henneman; vice-president: Randolph Daniel; councillors: Kay Ryerson and Gregory Guzman and (de cursu) secretary-treasurer, Richard Kay. Taking this as a congé d'élire, the entire slate was approved nemine contradicente.
Next, the report of the conference delegate to CARA was in order, and as usual none had been sent for lack of funds, a situation by now so familiar that we might do well to formalize it with an appropriate writ of our own entitled Cara carentes. But, again as usual, one of our members had by chance attended the CARA meeting and could report as our unfunded observer. In this case the spy was David Wagner, who told how the Mediaeval Academy's Committee on Centers and Regional Associations met in Dallas to celebrate the fiftieth birthday of its host, Jeremy Adams. Other than that there was nothing much that was new to report, except that the NEH had given Dumbarton Oaks twice as much as it had asked for to support a visiting scholar program.
Getting down to the serious business, invitations were solicited for the next conference, and again David Wagner rose to the occasion, offering us the hospitality of Northern Illinois University at DeKalb, home of the barbed "wire that won the West." This bit of trivia, contributed by President Lynch, permits me to strain a point and remark that thanks to DeKalb every American cow could respond pointedly to the writ Quare impedit? After Wagner's gracious invitation was applauded with abandon, we were then served a second writ De futuro by Don Queller, who invited the conference to meet on the University of Illinois campus at Urbana in 1985, and this too was accepted with rejoicing, to which might well have been added writs of Invenimus.
The meeting closed with a recognition De debito, which was not, as you might suppose, concerned with our unspeakable finances, but rather with our greater debts to Randy Daniel, the conference host, and to Steve Rowan, the program chairman.
The afternoon session, with Ann Warren in the chair, began with a small and able treatise on "Legatine Mandates and Papal Reserved Powers" by Robert Figueira (Emory), which, considering the subject, clearly deserves a writ of Mandemus. The next paper, however, is less easily brought under the system of English writs, for in it Louise Buenger Robbert (University of Missouri--St. Louis) described the Venetian system of sending merchant fleets to Alexandria, for which I can only lamely offer the statute De mercatoribus (or alternatively Quia emptores). Ed Peters (Pennsylvania) closed the afternoon with an eloquent commemoration of Henry Charles Lea, the historian of the Inquisition, for whom the right writ in undoubtedly De haeretico comburendo.
Our conference then discovered why the grass in Lexington is justly famous as we dissolved into small groups that struggled as best they could through the rain back to the Radisson Plaza, and thence to Spindletop, the fabulous faculty club that occupies a mansion we thought had existed only in Hollywood films of the thirties There the writ was De se bene gerendo, and I might add, hilariter. After the festivities, it was time to hear George Cuttino deliver the banquet address on English diplomacy at the end of the Hundred Years War, which considering that this was the last paper of the conference, was an undoubted instance of Oyer et terminer.
Although back at the Plaza the merriment extended into the small hours, we have reached a point beyond which "the memory of man runneth not." Thus I have discharged my obligation, and in so doing I hope I have not probed the legal maxim that "The process of law is a grave vexation."