About Me

I am currently a Junior Fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows, with a particular interest in economic history and the intersection of legal norms and social practices. Starting September 2016, I will be joining the History Department at Stanford University.

My dissertation, “Banishing Usury: The Expulsion of Foreign Moneylenders in Medieval Europe, 1200-1450,” examined the repeated expulsions of foreign (mostly Christian) moneylenders during the late Middle Ages.  

I earned an A.B. in History from Harvard College in 2007, writing my senior honors thesis on trade networks in the medieval Adriatic Sea under the supervision of the late Angeliki Laiou. I then earned an MPhil in Medieval History from Cambridge University, where David Abulafia supervised my thesis on the medieval commerce of Savona, a port city in northwestern Italy. Since then, my research has ranged from Roman imperialism to Italian Romanesque sculpture to the practice of preaching in late medieval Europe.

Recent Publications

Dorin, Rowan W. 2016. “"Once the Jews Have Been Expelled”: Intent and Interpretation in Late Medieval Canon Law.” Law & History Review 34 (2): 1-28.Abstract

For most of the Middle Ages, canon law’s position toward the Jews of Latin Christendom was straightforward: they were to be marginalized, but not expelled. Over the course of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, however, jurists began to question whether canon law might indeed require the expulsion of Jews. This question turned on the interpretation of an ecumenical decree, Usurarum voraginem, which had been drafted in response to Christian moneylending, but whose ambiguous phrasing took on new meaning as a result of shifting political dynamics and new trends in canonistic jurisprudence. Ultimately, even a reigning pope would come down in favor of an expansive reading of the decree, rupturing a tradition of papal resistance to Jewish expulsion that had endured for nearly a thousand years. By tracing jurists’ debates over the meaning of the decree alongside the response of secular and ecclesiastical authorities, this paper explores the interaction between legislative intent, legal interpretation, and the expulsion of Jews in the late Middle Ages.

Dorin, Rowan W. 2014. “L’Expulsion Des Usuriers Lombards Hors De France À La Fin Du XIIIe Siècle.” Hypothèses: Travaux de l’École doctorale d’histoire de l'Université Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne 17 (1): 153-62. Publisher's VersionAbstract

En janvier 1268, le roi (et futur saint) Louis IX promulgue une ordonnance pour expulser ceux qu’il accuse d’avoir appauvri son royaume en pratiquant l’usure en public et en commettant d’autres méfaits dans l’intimité de leurs foyers ; les coupables désignés par le décret doivent avoir quitté le royaume dans les trois mois. Proférer des accusations calomnieuses contre Juifs pour les contraindre à l’exil est une pratique banale au cours du bas Moyen Âge dans tous les royaumes d’Europe, mais dans le cas qui nous intéresse ici l’ordre d’expulsion vise des chrétiens, des prêteurs principalement originaires des villes d’Italie du Nord.

Cette communication entend tout d’abord examiner le contexte de la promulgation de l’ordonnance de janvier 1268 en analysant brièvement ses antécédents juridiques et intellectuels. Elle s’intéresse ensuite à sa mise en oeuvre et sa postérité, par l’analyse des témoignages : les mesures prévues ont-elle été exécutées ? quel a été leur impact sur l’émigration lombarde en France au cours des décennies suivantes, se sont-ils réinstallés ou ont-ils choisi de demeurer au-delà de la frontière ? Au travers de cet exemple singulier, se dessine également les rapports du royaume de France avec les états voisins.

Dorin, Rowan W. 2013. “Canon Law and the Problem of Expulsion: The Origins and Interpretation of Usurarum Voraginem (VI 5.5.1).” Zeitschrift der Savigny-Stiftung für Rechtsgeschichte. Kanonistische Abteilung 99: 129-161.Abstract

The canon Usurarum voraginem (VI 5.5.1), promulgated in 1274 at the Second Council of Lyon, called for the expulsion of foreign usurers and threatened recalcitrant authorities with excommunication and interdict. This article argues that the expulsion provision was indebted to contemporary French royal legislation for its contents and wording, rather than to any prior tradition within canon law. The case of Usurarum voraginem is therefore a rare example of direct influence of ius proprium on the ius canonicum. As seen from the dozens of surviving commentaries on the canon from the thirteenth through the mid-fifteenth century, Usurarum voraginem not only spurred canonists to debate its reach and implementation, but also led them to engage with current discussions of citizenship and foreignness. Finally, the article examines how the canon came to provide justification for expelling not only Christian usurers, but their Jewish counterparts as well.||

 Der Kanon Usurarum voraginem (VI 5.5.1), der 1274 auf dem Zweiten Konzil von Lyon verkündet wurde, rief zur Vertreibung fremder Wucherer auf und drohte aufsässigen Obrigkeiten mit Exkommunikation und Interdikt. Dieser Artikel vertritt die Auffassung, dass sowohl der Inhalt als auch der Wortlaut des Aufrufes zur Vertreibung der Wucherer dem zeitgenössischen französischen königlichen Recht und nicht den bereits bestehenden Traditionen des kanonischen Rechts geschuldet ist. Demzufolge ist der Usurarum voraginem ein seltenes Beispiel des direkten Einflusses des ius proprium auf das ius canonicum. Wie Dutzende aus der Zeit des 13. bis zur Mitte des 15. Jahrhunderts erhaltene Kommentare zum Kanon bezeugen, bewegte der Usurarum voraginem die damaligen Kanonisten nicht nur dazu, die Anwendung und die Tragweite des Kanons zu erörtern, sondern auch dazu, sich mit dem Status des Bürgers und des Fremden auseinanderzusetzen. Darüber hinaus untersucht der Artikel, wie der Kanon Usurarum voraginem zur Rechtfertigung für die Vertreibung sowohl christlicher als auch jüdischer Wucherer herangezogen wurde.

Dorin, Rowan W. 2012. “Les Activités Économiques Des Familles Vénitiennes Dans L’Adriatique (XIIe Et XIIIe Siècles).” Les réseaux familiaux: antiquité tardive et moyen âge. In memoriam A. Laiou et É. Patlagean, edited by Béatrice Caseau, 325-332. Paris: ACHCByz, 325-332.Abstract

Over the course of the twelfth and early thirteenth centuries, the Adriatic Sea underwent profound political and economic transformations. Among the most enduring of these was the expansion of Venetian control over the Adriatic sea-lanes that so marked the subsequent history of the region. Drawing on the rich familial archives of Venice, this paper offers a sketch of the ways in which this expansion spurred the commercial activities of Venetian families within the region, activities that themselves served to reinforce Venetian economic dominance and ultimately to integrate the Adriatic into a regional trade system. In particular, it argues that the increasing importance of the Adriatic region to Venice’s economic well-being, as well as the development of a specifically intra-Adriatic trade system, can be seen in a striking shift in the private commercial activities of Venetian merchants around the year 1200.