The Language of Love in a 12th Century English Law Book

In the final scene of Legally Blonde (2001), Elle Woods quotes Aristotle as part of her graduation speech: ‘The law is reason free from passion.’ ‘No offence to Aristotle,’ she continues, but ‘I have come to find that passion is a key ingredient to the study and practice of law.’ Elle captures a contradiction between a common conception of law as emotionless, and the practice of law as something that in reality always involves emotions. This tension between the theory and experience of law is one that goes back centuries, even millennia.

From Cotton MS Claudius B IV f.5v, c11th-12th century. Courtesy the British Library

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