Since the Middle Ages, hospitable courts played a central role in the complex judicial landscape of the pre-modern age for the conflict resolution of parties of different regional origins, because civil disputes could be dealt with more quickly if at least one plaintiff or defendant was a (legal) stranger. With the obvious relationship between (social) belonging and law established by these courts, questions of asymmetries in law come to the fore, which under the common keywords of inequality, integration and exclusion are a leading interest of research in the history of law, culture and crime, but which have so far hardly been dealt with in research within the framework of civil court practice. The Duisburg Hospitable Court shows that the historical civil proceedings concerning non-repaid loans, undelivered goods or disputed estates were no less important for social stability and order in the pre-modern period than criminal proceedings, even though social integration and exclusion were not the core issues of a civil lawsuit. Since the Middle Ages, hospitable courts concerned themselves with communication and trade practices and at the same time constituted an institution that offered legal security for both foreigners and locals. This was still true in the early modern period, which generally stands for a time that became increasingly hardened towards strangers and people on the move.
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