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Philip of Novara
Livre de forme de plait


Written in the early 1250s by Philip of Novara, an Italian-born knight and author, the Livre instructs its readers on the procedures of law in the High Court of the Kingdoms of Jerusalem and Cyprus. Philip divides his work into four parts. The first part discusses how a petitioner should present his plea to the court and suggests several strategies that could be used to delay a decision or reach a more favorable compromise. The second and largest section of the Livre deals with the legal status of a vassal in his dealings with his lord. In the third section Philip reproduces from memory the assises of the kingdom of Jerusalem, which were pieces of enacted law that Philip agrued were recorded in a series of letters kept in the Holy Sepulcre and lost when Jerusalem fell to Saladin in 1187. In truth, the letters did not exist -- by referencing them, Philip was instead constructing a piece of legal fiction to bolster his own work. The final section of the Livre concludes with a discussion of the personal virtues required to be a successful pleader and the moral responsibilities of those who practice law. The work is also known by its longer title, the Livre a un sien ami en forme de plait.

Representative MSS

Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, Fr. 19026. 
Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, cod. gall 771 
Venice, Biblioteca Marciana, Fr. app. 20

 Peter W Edbury, ed., Le livre de forme de plait (Nicosia: Cyprus Research Centre, 2009).

Secondary Literature

Hélène Charpentier, "Histoire, droit et morale du lignage dans l'oeuvre de Philippe de Novare," in Les Relations de parenté dans le monde médiéval. XIVe Colloque du Centre universitaire d'Etudes et de Recherches médiévales d'Aix (Sénéfiance, 26). Aix-en-Provence: Université de Provence, CUERMA (1989), 323-334.

For further information ofn Philip of Novara and his works, see Arlima.

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