In spheres of legal pluralism, there are always overlapping normative framings to be negotiated in order to fulfil expectations. So, how do people decide according to which framing they should act? How do actors provide for predictability? How do people cope with non-compliance?
Economic historians of the later Middle Ages have stressed the impact of honour and trust as basic mechanisms of producing predictability between merchants. Simultaneously, merchants needed stable political preconditions, as provided for by the mutual privileges their authorities agreed upon. On this political level as well as in everyday life, the threat and – if needed – use of force were eminent options. Hence, violence was not socially disruptive, but functional, as long as a relative equality of military means and the overwhelming consensus of economic exchange enclosed it. Within repetitive communication framed by these factors, norms emerge, which are used to produce and reproduce predictability. However, these norms always remain subject to continual re-negotiation.
All this the actors did not do in order to overcome legal pluralism, but in order to improve their own position and/or the position of their respective group in heterogenous legal spaces. These spaces thus remained pluralistic, because any harmonization necessarily failed, due to the diverging interests of the actors involved. The workshop aims at discussing these questions referring to late medieval Northern and Central Europe as an example.