Post-classical history

Letres dou Sepulcre

In the thirteenth century the jurist Philip of Novara reported that before the fall of Jerusalem to Saladin in 1187 the kings of Jerusalem had had their enactments written out and deposited for safekeeping in a locked chest in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. He claimed that at the time of the Muslim conquest this chest was lost, and thereafter no one knew for certain whether particular elements in the law had come into being through custom or through deliberate legislation.

Although there has been some debate among historians as to whether there is any truth in this story, it would seem that the doctrine of the Letres dou Sepulcre was developed in the thirteenth century as a legal fiction to justify uncertainties about the origins of custom and court procedure and to explain why custom among the Franks of Outremer differed from that in France.

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