law merchant, lex mercatoria, Middle Ages, customary law
This short reaction piece to an article by Emily Kadens asks why a long-refuted story of an alleged uniform medieval lex mercatoria is still being maintained. The answer is that the story serves not as an actual history but instead as a foundation myth. Attempts to falsify the myth with historical data are therefore futile: the myth derives its value not from its truth value but from its symbolic power.
Ralf Michaels, Legal Medievalism in Lex Mercatoria Scholarship, 90 Texas Law Review See Also 259-268 (2012) (response to Emily Kadens, The Myth of the Customary Law Merchant, 90 Texas Law Review 1153-1206 (2012))