Jolanta N. Komornicka:


I hold a Ph.D. from Boston University in History. I am a social and political historian of medieval Europe, specializing in the history of treason and fourteenth-century France.

My research, which has consistently been on political and legal questions and their relationship to larger social trends, undertakes an interdisciplinary approach—encompassing history, law, anthropology, and literary criticism—that analyzes discourses and institutions across time and space. For example, the article "The Devil on Trial" involves understanding developments in law and culture across Europe, exploring how the transnational became local and vice versa. My dissertation, “The Parlement of Paris and Crimes of Lese Majesty in France, 1328–1350,” examines why the idea of treason remained ill-defined in late medieval Europe, even while its importance grew throughout the end of the Middle Ages and early modern period. In analyzing trial records alongside social and political developments, I show how, from the perspective of Parlement, the prosecution of high crimes could centralize the burgeoning state, enhance the power of a unified judiciary, and legitimize the sovereignty of the Crown. These developments occurred at the same time that multiple groups in society attempted to repurpose treason for their own ends, both complicating the work of Parlement and creating a more dynamic political and legal system.

This work encourages historians to challenge the idea of crime as always destructive and of medieval law as top-down and insensitive to broader social concerns; moreover, it contributes to a larger conversation in the historical community about how law and legal traditions are not a separate discipline but part of any fruitful discussion of society, culture, and politics. My research has been recognized with various grants, including the Helen Maud Cam Dissertation Grant from the Medieval Academy of America and the Gagliardo Dissertation Fellowship from Boston University, and has resulted in multiple published articles.

I received my M.A. from Boston University in 2005. My thesis, A King in Woman's Clothing: Jadwiga of Anjou and the Transformation of Fourteenth-Century Poland, written under the direction of Clifford Backman, concerned the contemporary reaction to Jadwiga's rule by chroniclers and annalists.

In 2004, I received my B.A. from Reed College. Under the direction of Michael Faletra, I wrote a thesis on the Middle English Charlemagne romances, which has since been published as Shadowing the Other: Aristocratic Identity in the Fourteenth-Century Middle English Charlemagne Romances.

Email address: