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This collection of essays by British, American and French scholars uses the records of the law in Western Europe from the fall of Rome to the nineteenth century in an attempt to outline a social history of the West considered as a history of human relations. The primary themes are dispute, arbitration and conjugal relations; the primary influences considered are feud, Christianity and the state. The contributions are discussed overall by an anthropologist lawyer, Simon Roberts, who writes an anthropological introduction, and by the editor in a short historical postscript. The aim has been to strike a new note in social history by attending more closely to actual people and their actual relations; by drawing on the resources of anthropology, legal history, the history of religious feelings and institutions, and of states, to illuminate their behaviour; and by combining the efforts of scholars representing a diversity of intellectual traditions and a long perspective of human experience.