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The Common Legal Past of Europe, 1000–1800

The Common Legal Past of Europe, 1000–1800

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    The Common Legal Past of Europe, 1000–1800
    Book Description:

    With a vigor and passion rarely found in a scholarly text, Manlio Bellomo has written a broad history of the western European legal tradition. It is now made available to an English-speaking audience in an elegant and lucid translation from the original Italian.

    eISBN: 978-0-8132-2029-1
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

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  1. Foreword
    (pp. ix-x)

    With vigor and passion rarely found in a scholarly work, Manlio Bellomo introduces new vocabulary and a sweeping new interpretation of Western European legal history. He wrote his history of law for Italian law students. This English edition will make it available for students in the Anglo-American legal tradition.

    This book is a textbook, but a textbook with a sharply argued thesis that will interest scholars and students. Bellomo begins by describing a “wave of codification” that swept over Europe in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. He contends that codification has proven to be an imperfect instrument with which to...

  2. Preface to the American Edition
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  3. Preface to the 1991 Edition
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  4. Preface to the First Edition
    (pp. xvii-xx)
  5. 1 National Codifications: Triumph and Crisis
    (pp. 1-33)

    There is a period in the history of European law that historiography calls “the age of codification” or “codifications,” using the plural to stress the nationalistic connotations inherent in the connection between that phenomenon and the constitution or extension of the various European nation states, and using the singular to accentuate the unity of that phenomenon as a point of reference for an ideology and a method.

    The time-span is not short: it includes all of the last century and a good part of our own. The “age of codifications” began in the eighteenth century with a few preliminary projects,...

  6. 2 Per pugnam sine iustitia: An Age without Jurists
    (pp. 34-54)

    At first sight it would seem to require a great effort to imagine an age without jurists. The idea becomes more comprehensible, however, if we heed Emperor Theodosius II and a passage in the constitution “De auctoritate Codicis” that prefaced the Codex of 438. The emperor says of jurists that “there are seldom any who have full command [scientia] of civil law,” adding, “among so many dreary, bungling lucubrations it is difficult to find anyone who has received solid and complete doctrines.”¹

    In the Western Roman Empire in a.d. 438 events had not yet reached the precipitous climax of the...

  7. 3 Ius commune in Europe
    (pp. 55-77)

    In France in 1016, Adalberon, the bishop of Laon, wrote with conviction and satisfaction that Christian society was made up of “those who pray, those who fight, and those who labor” (oratores, bellatores, laboratores).¹ In this synthetic picture society was divided into three orders: the agrarian aristocracies, traditionally linked to bearing arms, the arts of war, and the exercise and responsibilities of religion; the clergy, in cities, towns, and rural areas and on the various levels of the official hierarchy (parishes, dioceses, and so forth), plus canons and monks; and finally the laborers, those who worked with their hands to...

  8. 4 Ius proprium in Europe
    (pp. 78-111)

    The two universal laws, the law of the ancient Roman Empire and the law of the church (the ius civile and the ius canonicum), designated together as utrumque ius, were completed between the twelfth and the fourteenth centuries. During that same long period, all of Europe lived under a broad variety of heterogeneous local juridical norms. We may give the generic name ius proprium to each of these norms.

    There was no uniformity in the various particular norms (iura propria) to correspond to the unity of the utrumque ius (ius commune). Rather, their extraordinary diversity makes one suspect that the...

  9. 5 The University in Europe and the Ius commune
    (pp. 112-125)

    During the eleventh century and at the start of the twelfth century, there were still few schools. Monasteries and episcopal seats were active in providing elementary and secondary schooling, but it is very unclear whether or not further instruction on a private basis was given in the house of a magister to small groups of zealous young men eager to improve their store of juridical knowledge after their basic course of studies in the “liberal arts,” in particular, in the “trivium” of grammar, rhetoric, and dialectic.

    One thing is clear: one school soon stood out from the rest for its...

  10. 6 Legal Science: Forms of Exposition and Techniques of Diffusion
    (pp. 126-148)

    Throughout the later Middle Ages both the formation and the transmission of knowledge were typically oral. The obverse of this coin is that an extremely small number of written texts were recognized as speaking with authority. At the head of this list were the Gospels, which, as both “Scripture” and “scripture,” were writing par excellence. “Holy Writ” was placed on the altar as an expression and confirmation of the idea that those writings were the books of the faith, sacred for their stamp of divine authority and for the precious truths they contained and preserved. Next to the books of...

  11. 7 The System of the Ius commune
    (pp. 149-202)

    In the long age that began in the twelfth century and continued until the eighteenth century, the many and varied norms of a city, a feudal territory, or a kingdom, which covered the entire population or specific groups, social levels, corporations, or confraternities within the population, gradually came to be clarified, delimited, and consolidated.

    All of Europe was honeycombed with a thick network of thriving particular law, giving a first impression of confusion, uncertainty, and precariousness. Anyone who traveled a long distance and went from one country to another might easily change status within the day; he might be of...

  12. 8 In Time and Space
    (pp. 203-236)

    The fifteenth and sixteenth centuries were times thick with events and dominated by several major problems. To the south, in particular on the Iberian Peninsula, the Arabs still pressed at the edges of the continent. In the east, Constantinople fell into the hands of Mohammed II, and as the Byzantine era came to an end the Ottomans, a people hostile to Christianity, loomed and spread terror on the eastern frontiers of Europe.

    During those same years the great navigators, in a series of adventurous voyages, pushed ever farther along the west coast of Mrica, and between 1497 and 1500 Vasco...