Medieval law in western Europe before the twelfth century is best understood against the background of the ideas and assumptions about society and politics of the time. These combined an acceptance of hierarchy with the duty of a ruler to rule justly, consulting with the greater men of his community and to observing its custom. Government was thus conducted through what Timothy Reuter called ‘assembly politics.’ Law was done, not in courts that specialized in litigation, but in general-purpose governmental meetings or assemblies. These occasionally met and made judgments work without presidents but not apparently without senior members of the community to made collective judgments. Difficult as it is to assess the significance of the change, the word curia was seldom used for meetings or assemblies that made judgments until – perhaps coincidentally – they came to dominated by professional advocates.