06 December 2023

BOOK: Quentin VERREYCKEN, Crimes et gens de guerre au Moyen Âge : Angleterre, France et principautés bourguignonnes au XVe siècle (Paris: PUF, 2023), 277 p., ISBN 9782130826439, €27


(image source: PUF)

Dans le royaume de France au XVe siècle, les violences charriées par la guerre de Cent Ans forgent une image particulièrement négative de l’homme de guerre. Face aux exactions perpétrées par les soldats (pillage, brigandage, viol, destruction), il devient urgent pour les autorités de réagir. Mais à une époque où la notion de « crimes de guerre » n’existe pas, pas plus que les conventions de Genève ou les tribunaux pénaux internationaux, comment réguler efficacement la violence militaire ? À la fin du Moyen Âge, dans un contexte de renforcement du pouvoir monarchique et de restauration de la justice, c’est par le biais de la répression mais également du pardon que le gouvernement royal parvient tant bien que mal à mettre au pas les gens de guerre.

A book presentation will take place on 12 December in Chaumont (Haute-Marne, France). More information here

SEMINAR SERIES: Max Planck Institute & Tel Aviv University, Transnational Legal History Workshop (2023-2024)




6 December: Assaf Likhovski (TAU)

Studying Ancient Constitutional Law in Colonial India and Mandatory Palestine

13 December: Jan-Henrik Meyer (MPILHLT)

European Community Environmental Law in the 1970s: Combatting Water Pollution

20 December: Noga Morag-Levine (Michigan State University)

England’s Missing Boards of Health: The Medieval Beginnings of an Anglo-Continental Divergence

10 January: Alon Jasper (TAU)

Transforming a Polity into an Economy: The Five Nations and the Railroads, 1855-1894

17 January: Raquel Sirotti (MPILHLT)

State-like powers? Charter Companies and the production of knowledge of normativity in Mozambique (1891-1942)

24 January: Egas Moniz Bandeira (FAU)

Changing Legal Professions in China, Japan, and the Ottoman Empire in the long 19th century: Towards a Historical Comparison

31 January: Aparna Balachandran (Delhi University)

Religion, Law and Urban Governance: Subaltern Christians as Legal Subjects in Early Colonial South India

7 February: Cristiano Paixão (University of Brasília)

Transnational legal mobilization: repressive structures and networks of resistance in S. American dictatorships (1964-1988)

14 February: Julia Moses (University of Sheffield)

Harmonizing the Family? International Law, Cultural Norms and Marriage at the Turn of the Twentieth Century

21 February: Sarina Kuersteiner (Union College)

Whatever God Gives: Arabic and Judaeo-Arabic Rizq and Latin Resicum in Commercial Vocabulary, 1154-1164 CE

For more information or to register, please email

ADVANCE ARTICLE: Thomas MOHR, "Irish newspapers and the creation of the 1922 constitution of the Irish Free State" (Comparative Legal History) [OPEN ACCESS]



This article attempts to recover perceptions of the Constitution of the Irish Free State at the time of its creation through analysis of Irish newspapers published in 1922. The comparative analysis of contemporary perceptions is intended to serve as a counterweight to perceptions of this Constitution presented in scholarship written in the years after 1922 that have been heavily influenced by knowledge of subsequent events. This article includes analysis of the 1922 Constitution in newspapers based in all regions of the island of Ireland. It covers the jurisdiction of ‘Southern Ireland’, that was evolving into the ‘Irish Free State’, and the jurisdiction of ‘Northern Ireland’ that was destined to remain a part of the United Kingdom. The comparative analysis examines differing viewpoints within and between these two jurisdictions. The conclusion argues that the difficulties and relatively short lifespan experienced by the Constitution of the Irish Free State could not have been easily predicted from the vantage point of 1922.

Read the article here: DOI 10.1080/2049677X.2023.2270389

05 December 2023

BOOK: Luisa BRUNORI (dir.), Dynamique juridique des réseaux marchands. Hanses, nations, agences, filiales et comptoirs [Etudes d'Histoire du Droit et des Idées Politiques; 33] (Toulouse: Presses universitaires de Toulouse, 2023), 338 p., ISBN 978-2-36170-249-6, € 22


(image source: LGDJ)

Troisième volet du projet PHEDRA, ce volume poursuit l'ambition d'appréhender la pratique commerciale dans son devenir, la perméabilité normative qui lui est inhérente, et les parcours des dynamiques de formation du droit des affaires, saisis dans leur « écosystème juridique européen ». Le colloque « La dynamique juridique des réseaux marchands : hanses, nations, agences, filiales et comptoirs », dont les actes sont rassemblés dans le présent volume, a retenu comme objet d'études un aspect essentiel de cette porosité des normes et pratiques des affaires : les réseaux marchands. Ils ont été très étudiés par l'historiographie économique et sociale, cependant les enjeux juridiques de ces réseaux marchands sont restés plutôt inexplorés. Or, l'historiographie juridique s'aperçoit de plus en plus que la ramification de l'organisation marchande a joué un rôle déterminant dans l'homogénéisation des pratiques et des normes des affaires. Les contributions ici recueillies en sont la confirmation et invitent à de nouvelles recherches.

 On the editor:

Luisa Brunori est Directrice de Recherche au CNRS, spécialiste de l’histoire du droit et du droit comparé.

More information here

SEMINAR: Sotto la punta dell'Iceberg (violenza economica, violenza verbale, violenza morale). Le donne e la battaglia per l'accesso all'istruzione e al lavoro tra otto e Novecento - (Padova: Università di Padova 6 dicembre 2023)


ADVANCE ARTICLE: Jean-Louis HALPÉRIN, "Doctrinal circulations in criminal law 1764-1914" (Comparative Legal History)



Although criminal law books were comparatively rare before the middle of the eighteenth century, Beccaria’s Dei delitti e delle pene (1764) triggered the development of an enormous literature devoted to penal issues (from philosophical foundations to debates related to prisons) in Europe until 1914. In one and a half centuries, more than 20,000 books were published on these issues, of which about half were published in German lands and the remainder in Italy, France, Great Britain/United Kingdom, Spain, Portugal, Belgium and the Netherlands. Both philosophers and sociologists participated to these intellectual exchanges. This paper tries to analyse different ways for measuring the circulation of these texts (translations, quotations especially in footnotes, catalogues of private and public libraries, correspondence and travels). Although the debates were clearly transnational, there were also obstacles in the diffusion of foreign books. After evaluating these linguistic or cultural obstacles and considering the changing contexts between the first and second halves of the nineteenth century, this article outlines three conclusions about the globalisation and non-globalisation of legal concepts during this period.

Read the article here: DOI 10.1080/2049677X.2023.2270387.

SPECIAL ISSUE: Special Issue Risk Management and Jurisdictional Boundaries in Pre-Modern Europe (ed. Maria FUSARO) (Quaderni Storici LVII (2022), nr. 3)


(image source: RW)

Maria Fusaro, Introduction. Risk Management and Jurisdictional Boundaries in Pre-Modern Europe (OPEN ACCESS)
DOI 10.1408/108114

Giovanni Ceccarelli, I teologi e l’avaria generale. Linguaggi del rischio tra XIII e XVIII secolo (OPEN ACCESS)
By taking into analysis a wide range of scholastic texts, this essay aims at filling a gap in our understanding of how risk was perceived and theorized in pre-modern Europe. Scholarly investigations have so far underlined how intellectuals, while discussing about marine insurance, were able to explore the economic dimensions of risk, including its measurability and profitability. However, we know very little about what they thought about alternatives to insurance and, by focusing on General Average, this study intends to overcome this shortcoming. An extensive survey of scholastic writings from the 13th to the 18th century, shows that theologians had difficulty at considering General Average as worthy of in-depth discussion. Only at the end of the 16th century scholasticism acknowledges the principles currently used in legal literature, without this prompting anything comparable to the discussions on insurance or gambling. Nonetheless, these sources reveal alternative ways to describe sea risks, where the emphasis is not on calculus or profit but on shared responsibility, collective action, and ex-post mitigation

Dave De ruysscher, Shipping, Commerce and the Risk of Jurisdiction. The Scheldt Trade (Sixteenth Century). (OPEN ACCESS)
DOI 10.1408/108116.
This article investigates the rules of jurisdiction that were applied in the case of damages in maritime transport. The focus is on traffic in one of the main riverine estuaries of the Low Countries, over the rivers Honte and Scheldt. In the course of the fifteenth century the governments of the county of Flanders and the duchy of Brabant had come to embrace a more exclusive notion of jurisdiction on rivers, which comprised the idea of precise demarcations. In practice, however, this new approach did not bring about more clarity. Uncertainty as to which forum would hear disputes on riverine shipping accidents marked a risk of trade. Among merchants and shipmasters, choice of jurisdiction was common, which happened after mishaps and was not arranged for contractually. The mentioned uncertainty was addressed with rules of thumb, which steered towards the courts of some locations instead of others. They took the port of destination as criterion, in combination with the residence of the merchant-owners of cargo on board of the ship.

Maria Fusaro, Venetian «Averages» between East and West. Risk Management and Transaction Costs in the Early Modern Mediterranean (OPEN ACCESS)
DOI 10.1408/108117

Between the thirteenth and seventeenth centuries, Averages played an important (and neglected) role within Venetian maritime trade and shipping, as they functioned both as risk management tools and as a mechanism for the absorption of transaction costs. The essay will trace these normative developments across the phase of economic growth in the Middle Ages, and analyse how these were structurally transformed in the seventeenth century under the pressure of new maritime operators which contributed to the early modern crisis of the Venetian maritime sector. This touches on several elements of the shifting Venetian economy about which we still know very little: the internal balance of interests between different economic sectors; and within the maritime sector itself – shipowners, merchants, investors; and presents a novel interpretation of the resilience of Venetian maritime working capital well into the eighteenth century.

Jake Dyble,  Lex Mercatoria. Private «Order», and Commercial «Confusion». A View from Seventeenth-Century Livorno (OPEN ACCESS)
DOI 10.1408/108118

This article examines how maritime Averages – legal procedures that were quotidian but multi-centred and potentially complex – were managed in the jurisdictionally crowded Mediterranean. One suggested solution to this difficulty was that procedures were governed by the lex mercatoria, a supposedly universal body of customary merchant law which allowed disputes to be resolved according to a common framework: the debunking of this historical myth demands that legal historians elucidate more clearly how the problem of different maritime customs was resolved in a transnational environment. Evidence from seventeenth-century Livorno suggests that heterogenous maritime Average rules were overcome by mutual recognition of the decisions made in other jurisdictions even when these followed different rules. This was justified with reference to the «disorder» and «confusion» that would otherwise afflict commerce. «Order» here did not mean uniformity and ex-ante certainty of outcomes but rather general expectations that judgements made in other centres would be respected. Attempts by the English and French states to press for consular jurisdiction threatened – mostly unsuccessfully – to disrupt this system. The case buttresses certain lex mercatoria theories only in as far as it demonstrates that early modern state building had the potential to destabilise a functioning international commercial order: yet this order was guaranteed by a legitimating authority that only state-backed institutions could provide.

 Andrea Addobbati, Il romanzo del barattiere. «Prova di mare» e indebolimento della posizione legale del marinaio nel passaggio tra Sette e Ottocento (OPEN ACCESS)
DOI 10.1408/108119

In the second half of the 18th century, the emergence of large insurance companies significantly altered the European market for maritime risks, changing the traditional balance of power between insurers and policyholders. This change had repercussions on the regulatory framework and contractual practices, whose reform began to be perceived as a need that could no longer be postponed. In order to be able to make use of the new calculation- based forecasting tools, it was first necessary to develop and adopt certain legal devices that would reduce information asymmetries and moral hazard, both at the contractual level and at the time of claim settlement. Starting from the close analysis of an emblematic case against a Neapolitan shipowner accused of fraud, the essay clarifies how the evolution of admissible evidence and judicial procedure was shaped by the profound structural transformations of the period.

Read the full special issue (and the book reviews in the journal) here



04 December 2023

BOOK: Clive EMSLEY & Sara MCDOUGALL (eds.), A Global History of Crime and Punishment (London: Bloomsbury, 2023), 6 vol. ISBN 9781472584847, 550 USD

(image source: Bloomsbury)


What constituted a crime 2,500 years ago, and how was criminal activity dealt with? How has our definition of justice evolved over time alongside developments in law, society, religion and class structures? 36 experts address these pressing questions in a six-volume reference set that spans 2,500 years of human history. Integrating perspectives from history, cultural studies, philosophy and classics, this globally-focused work traces developments in the ever-changing criminal and justice worlds against a variety of social, legal and cultural contexts. Individual volume editors ensure the cohesion of the whole, and to make it as easy as possible to use, chapter titles are identical across each of the volumes. This gives the choice of reading about a specific period in one of the volumes, or following a theme across history by reading the relevant chapter in each of the six. The six volumes cover: 1. Antiquity (500 BCE - 800 CE); 2. Medieval Age (800 - 1450); 3. Renaissance (1450 - 1650) ; 4. Age of Enlightenment (1650 - 1800); 5. Age of Empire (1800 - 1920); 6. Modern Age (1920 – 2000+). Themes include crime, types of criminal, law enforcement, sanctions and representations of crime and punishment. The page extent is approximately 1,728 pp. with c. 300 illustrations. Each volume opens with notes on contributors, a series preface and an introduction, and concludes with notes, bibliography and an index.

Table of contents:

Volume 1: A Global History of Crime and Punishment in Antiquity
Edited by Adriaan Lanni, Harvard Law School, USA

Volume 2: A Global History of Crime and Punishment in the Medieval Age
Edited by Karl Shoemaker, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA

Volume 3: A Global History of Crime and Punishment in the Renaissance
Edited by Laura Stokes and Michael Menna, both Stanford University, USA

Volume 4: A Global History of Crime and Punishment in the Age of Enlightenment
Edited by Xavier Rousseaux, Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium

Volume 5: A Global History of Crime and Punishment in the Age of Empire
Edited by Mark Finnane, Griffith University, Australia

Volume 6: A Global History of Crime and Punishment in the Modern Age

Edited by Paul Lawrence, The Open University, UK

On the editors:

Clive Emsley was Emeritus Professor and founder Co-Director of the International Centre for Comparative Criminological Research at the Open University, UK. His books include Crime and Society in England, 1750-1900, The English Police: A Political and Social History and Gendarmes and the State in Nineteenth-Century Europe. Sara McDougall is Professor of History at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and appointed to the faculty in Biography and Memoir, French, History, and Medieval Studies at the CUNY Graduate Center. She studies gender and justice in the Middle Ages, with a focus on women’s encounters with legal and religious ideas in the society and culture of Medieval France. She is the author of two books, Bigamy and Christian Identity in Late-Medieval Champagne (2012), and Royal Bastards: The Birth of Illegitimacy, c.800-1230 (2017). She has co-edited special issues for Law & History Review and Gender & History.

 Read more here.

CONFERENCE: Punir moins pour punir mieux ? La culture juridique du libéralisme pénal. Doctrine, lois et pratiques (XVIIIe-XXIe siècles) (Genève: Université de Genève, 7-8 DEC 2023)


(image source: Criminocorpus)


L’équipe Damoclès de l’université de Genève organise un colloque les 7 et 8 décembre prochains à Genève sur le thème “Punir moins pour punir mieux ? La culture juridique du libéralisme pénal. Doctrine, lois et pratiques (XVIIIe-XXIe siècles)”. Depuis la fin du Moyen Âge, le pénal hégémonique de l’État a profondément modifié les sociétés modernes en pacifiant les conflits et en endiguant les mécanismes de la vindicte sociale. L’équipe DAMOCLES (Droit, Administration, Magistrats, Ordre, Crime, Lois et Société) étudie les mécanismes institutionnels et sociaux liés à l’affirmation du pénal hégémonique entre l’État justicier et l’État de droit issu de la culture juridique des Lumières, entre l’arbitraire et la légalité des délits et des peines, entre l’éclat des supplices et la prison comme peine. Dans le renouveau international d’un champ historiographique consacré depuis une quinzaine d’années à l’État, à la justice, au droit de punir, à la magistrature, au contrôle social et à la police, l’équipe DAMOCLES fédère et amplifie à Genève les études autour de ces objets. Entre les époques moderne et contemporaine, sur les plans régional, national et international, à partir de l’archive, des sources de la loi et de la doctrine, il s’agit d’en penser de façon comparative les pratiques, les doctrines, les concepts, les idéologies, les mutations, les sensibilités et les représentations sociales.


Jeudi 7 décembre 2023

09.00 heures : Mot de bienvenue de M. Nicolas Schaetti, conservateur en charge des collections spéciales de la BGE.

09.15 heures : Introduction: Michel Porret

Panel I : Lumières. Présidence, Robert Roth

09.40-10.00 Philippe Audegean, Libéralisme et abolitionnisme dans la philosophie pénale de Beccaria

10.05-10.25 Raphaëlle Théry, Libéralisme idéal et libéralisme défensif – Deux lectures de l’institution pénale

10.30-10.50 : pause

10.55-11.15 Dario Ippolito, Frontières de l’abolitionnisme. La question de la prison à vie dans le libéralisme pénal

11.20-11.40 Luigi Ferrajoli, Le repli illibéral de la justice pénale d’aujourd’hui. Comment punir moins, comment punir mieux

Dès 11.45 : discussion

Dès 12.30 : déjeuner de travail

Panel II : Pratiques. Présidence, Raphaëlle Théry

14.15-14.35 Emmanuel Berger, Le libéralisme pénal sous tension. Le principe de la modération des peines confronté aux crises politiques et sociales de la Révolution française (1791-1799)

14.40-15.00 Marc Ortolani, Libéralisme pénal et balbutiements de la justice criminelle – La répression du suicide et de sa tentative dans les États de Savoie sous la Restauration

15.05-15.25 Numa Graa, La Régénération : un moment d’affirmation du libéralisme pénal ?

15.30-15.55 : pause

16.00-16.20 Marco Cicchini, La mesure de sûreté pour les délinquants irresponsables : le laboratoire vaudois (1830-1900)

Dès 16.25 : discussion

Dès 18.00 à Uni Mail – Présidence, Numa Graa

Conférence de Xavier Tabet, Foucault et Beccaria à l’épreuve du libéralisme

Dès 19.00 heures, apéritif de bienvenue


Vendredi 8 décembre 2023

Panel III : Politiques carcérales. Présidence, Frédéric Chauvaud

09.00-09.20 Alice Rey, Le corps pénal chez Bentham

09.25-09.45 Jean-Charles Daumy, La Rochefoucauld-Liancourt et les prisons de la Seine, une expérience d’un libéralisme carcéral ?

09.50-1010 Nathalie Dahn-Singh, Surveiller pour punir mieux. Acteurs et enjeux de l’inspection des prisons à la fin du XIXe siècle en Suisse

10.15-10.35 : pause

10.40-11.00 Alix Heiniger, Libéralisme pénal dans l’exécution des peines : les premières années du pénitencier de Lenzburg (et le directeur Müller) 1864-1872

11.05-11.25 Marc Renneville, «À la sueur de leur front». Les mineurs de Gaillon, une expérience carcérale du libéralisme pénal

Dès 11.30 : discussion

Dès 12.00 : repas de midi

Panel IV : État libéral. Présidence, Vincent Fontana

14.00-14.20 Luigi Lacchè, Le libéralisme pénal et le constitutionnalisme : trois générations de juristes (Francesco Carrara, Enrico Pessina, Luigi Lucchini) dans le débat italien

14.25-14.45 Elio Tavilla, Professeurs et avocats contre la peine capitale : une bataille du libéralisme pénal italien

14.50-15.10 Clémence Faugère, La loi du 29 juillet 1881 : le libéralisme pénal au service d’une Troisième République en construction

Dès 15.15 : Pause

15.35-15.55 Jonathan Barras, Adultère et libéralisme pénal : autour de la ‘croisade’ de deux juristes genevois

16.00-16.20 Laurence Soula, La pensée humaniste au sein des congrès pénaux et pénitentiaires internationaux (1872-1950)

16.25-16.45 Élisabeth Salvi, Lois criminelles et sûreté publique dans l’œuvre de Brissot de Warville

Dès 16.50 : discussion

17.30-18.00 Flávio Borda d’Água, Présentation d’un corpus de correspondance issu du fonds des Manuscrits et Archives Voltaire et de la BGE.

Dès 19.45 Repas de clôture du colloque

 More information here.

CFP: "L'histoire du droit de la mer, la mer dans l'histoire du droit" - Journées internationales de la Société d’histoire du droit (Toulon: Université de Toulon, 30 MAY-2 JUN 2024) [DEADLINE 30 MAR 2024]


Vincent Courdouan (Toulon 1810-1893), Le combat du Romulus (1847) Toulon, Musée National de la Marine (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

La Faculté de droit de l’Université de Toulon, accueillera les prochaines Journées internationales de la Société d’histoire du droit du 30 mai au 2 juin 2024. La Société d’Histoire du Droit est une des plus anciennes sociétés savantes juridiques. Elle a fêté son centenaire en 2013. Elle organise chaque année un colloque international rassemblant une centaine d’universitaires, dont la langue  d’expression est le français. Le colloque annuel aura lieu à Toulon en 2024 à l’invitation du Professeur Laurent Reverso, avec le soutien du Centre de Droit et de Politique Comparés (UMR CNRS 7318).

Le thème retenu pour le colloque de Toulon, qui correspond à deux axes transdisciplinaires stratégiques de la recherche de l’Université de Toulon est « L’histoire du droit de la mer, la mer dans l’histoire du droit ». 

L’axe « Civilisations et sociétés euro-méditerranéennes et comparées » de façon évidente du fait du caractère éminemment comparatiste de l’histoire du droit, et du fait que le colloque touchant l’histoire du droit de la mer, il comportera sans doute de nombreux ateliers portant sur l’histoire du droit de la mer en Méditerranée. En outre, il est prévu que l’histoire du droit ultra-marin fasse aussi l’objet de travaux.

L’axe « Mer Environnement et Développement Durable » sera doublement concerné dans la mesure où il s’agit de la mer, mais également parce que les communicants pourront proposer des thèmes de recherche concernant l’environnement, thème émergent en histoire du droit. Les réflexions porteront sur la façon dont le droit a envisagé la mer, singulièrement la Méditerranée, depuis l’Antiquité jusqu’au début du XXe siècle, mais aussi de voir comment, bien souvent, c’est la mer et les activités maritimes (guerre et commerce notamment), qui ont façonné le droit. Bien que des propositions de contribution sortant du cadre puissent être acceptées, nous proposons les thématiques suivantes qui formeront l’architecture scientifique du colloque.

1. Les propositions de communication pourront concerner les droits antiques, qu’ils soient proche ou moyen orientaux (en particulier les droits égyptien, biblique, babylonien et sumérien). Le droit grec et le droit romain feront sans aucun doute l’objet de plusieurs communications, tant le droit maritime, mais aussi le droit de la mer, se sont développés autour de la Méditerranée antique, à partir de ces droits-là. Il est aussi attendu que les spécialistes de la question et de la période traitent des questions commerciales, contractuelles, assurantielles venues du droit maritime. 

2. Ces mêmes questions commerciales, contractuelles et assurantielles, avec bien entendu la vexata quaestio du prêt à intérêt, souvent lié aux activités maritimes et au commerce lointain, pourront également être travaillées par les spécialistes de la période médiévale. Les droits (au sens de chartes, coutumes commerciales, etc.) des villes italiennes et méditerranéennes sont particulièrement aptes à fournir des sujets d’étude dans ce domaine. Il est fort possible qu’il en soit de même avec des villes portuaires du nord de l’Europe (Flandres, Pays-Bas, Allemagne voire Scandinavie ou Îles britanniques). Bien entendu, la richesse de la doctrine juridique médiévale constitue également un champ de recherche particulièrement vaste et stimulant. 

3. Les docteurs médiévaux ont laissé à la postérité nombre d’ouvrages dans lesquels les rapports entre le droit et la mer peuvent être étudiés. La période moderne qui s’ouvre avec Vittoria, Suarez, Gentili ou Grotius est également d’une richesse immense pour ce qui concerne la doctrine juridique en général, et la doctrine juridique en rapport avec la mer en particulier. On assiste, cela est très connu, à la naissance du droit international et cette naissance est liée au droit maritime, au droit de la mer et à l’appréhension de l’espace particulier qu’est la mer, par le droit. Mais même déjà très travaillée, surtout en langue anglaise d’ailleurs, cette thématique recèle encore quantité de domaines d’investigation scientifique inexplorés. La piraterie est le thème le plus exotique, la guerre le plus pragmatique, mais bien d’autres sont envisageables. C’est aussi le temps des grands traités et des partages du monde qui coïncident avec les colonisations européennes. Dans cette diplomatie, la mer et son éventuelle appropriation est un enjeu de premier plan. 

4. Le monde qui s’ouvre avec la Révolution française hérite des problématiques de la période précédente notamment en ce qu’elle voit l’amplification considérable de la guerre maritime, qui existait avant le XVIIIe siècle, mais qui prend une tout autre ampleur à partir des guerres révolutionnaires et impériales. Surtout, on voit l’approfondissement de toutes les thématiques maritimes liées au droit international, que ce soit du point de vue doctrinal ou du point de vue législatif et jurisprudentiel. Dans le même temps, la mer reste comme dans toutes les époques précédentes un formidable incubateur de la formation du droit privé, qu’il soit commercial, contractuel ou assurantiel. La naissance du droit international privé est également un champ de recherche possible. Le droit colonial ne saurait être oublié tant il occupe une place majeure à l’époque contemporaine, tout comme le droit militaire, les deux se développant souvent de concert. Enfin, les contributions tournant autour du droit actuel, mais possédant une profondeur historique, seront évidemment les bienvenues.

Ces pistes qui ne se veulent d’ailleurs pas exhaustives montrent à quel point tous les historiens du droit spécialistes du droit privé, du droit public de la pensée juridique et politique, du droit colonial, etc., sont susceptibles d’apporter leur contribution à ce colloque de la Société d’Histoire du Droit. 

Les propositions de communication, qui ne devront pas excéder la taille d’une page pdf (3500 caractères), seront adressées à l’adresse suivante avant le 31 mars 2024, délai de rigueur

ADVANCE ARTICLE: Mario CONETTI, "Banking Law in Italian Legal Consulting between the Fourteenth and the Fifteenth Centuries" (American Journal of Legal History)


(image source: OUP)


Banking operations in northern and central Italy between late fourteenth and early fifteenth century were very sophisticated and often gave rise to disputes involving the expertise only law professors could provide. To provide solutions which were at the same time viable and grounded in legal culture, lawyers went beyond merely practical considerations to work out legal institutions as a framework to banking activities. In doing so, they developed a proper banking law, a peculiar legal system.

Read more here: DOI 10.1093/ajlh/njad027.

CONFERENCE: La longue durée des discours sur la féodalité (Paris: EHESS/CRH, 4-5 DEC 2023)


(image source: EHESS)

Ce colloque international, organisé par Élie Haddad (RHISOP) et Antoine Roullet (GEI) constitue le second volet d’une réflexion sur les usages intellectuels, politiques et historiographiques du monde « féodal » dans l’historiographie du XXe siècle. Il déplacera le regard en amont, en interrogeant les discours, les théories, les représentations qui ont été élaborés entre XVe et XIXe siècles sur ce qu’on appellera par la suite le  féodalisme » ou la « féodalité ». Antérieurement à l’émergence de l’histoire comme discipline académique, antérieurement aux développements marxistes ou positivistes sur la question, d’autres discours historiographiques ont été tenus que ce colloque entend démêler et expliciter pour mieux remettre en perspective les débats postérieurs et éclairer la stratigraphie et la généalogie des débats des historiens sur la question. Depuis les jurisconsultes des monarchies européennes à la fin du Moyen Âge jusqu’à l’émergence de la vision romantique et libérale de certains historiens du début du XIXe siècle, en passant par la réflexion sur les droits individuels, la répartition des pouvoirs ou l’économie politique au XVIIIe siècle, qui ont configuré différentes conceptions de la féodalité et de l’histoire médiévale, ce colloque cherchera à dégager les spécificités de ces discours dans différents espaces européens et à mieux comprendre comment ils ont travaillé les historiographies nationales au XXe siècle.


4 décembre

9h - Accueil

9h30 - Élie Haddad (CNRS/CRH) et Antoine Roullet (CNRS/CRH) : Introduction

10h -  Jan Zelenka (Institute of History of the Czech Academy of Sciences),
“iure feodali seu eciam emphyothetico”. The interplay between ius feudale and emphyteusis in early modern academic discourse

10h45 - Pause

11h  - Fanny Cosandey (EHESS/CRH)
Le domaine royal comme support au discours sur la féodalité, XVIe-XVIIIe siècles

11h45 - Suzana Simon (Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts)
Two Ages of “Bastard Feudalism” on the Continent: Fact and Perception of Medieval Nobility in Hungary-Croatia (1400s-1800s)

12h30 - Déjeuner

14h - Luis Salas Almela (Universidad de Córdoba)
The quarrel for the tax revenues: the frontline in the aristocratic defense for their privileges. Some thoughts from the case-study of Castille (1500-1700)

14h45 - Ivo Cerman (Institute of History, University of South Bohemia)
Les réflexions sur l'origine du servage et sa justification en Bohême, XVIIe-XVIIIe siècles

15h45 Stéphane Jettot (CRM/Sorbonne-Université), Émergence et usages de la notion de féodalité dans les îles britanniques (16e-19e siècles)

16h30 - Antoine Roullet (CNRS/CRH), Le féodalisme ibérique, un débat du XIXe siècle


5 décembre

9h15 - Blaise Dufal (The University of Sydney)
La fin de la féodalité et la protohistoire de la médiévistique au XVIIIe siècle

10h - Laure Verdon (TELEMMe/AMU)
« Ce singulier mélange de juridiction qui fut la conséquence de la féodalité ». Fief, féodalité et seigneurie en Provence médiévale à travers l'œuvre de Camille Arnaud (1798-1883)

10h45 - Pause

11h - Diego Carlo Améndolla Spínola (Facultad de Filosofía y Letras, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México)
Between Law and Religion: The Concepts of Féodalité and Féodalisme at the Beginning of the French 19th Century, 1800-1815

11h45 - Annie Tindley (Newcastle University)
Feudalism as a dirty word? The Scottish Enlightenment, Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions and perceptions of the Scottish aristocracy, c. 1800-1920

12h30 - Déjeuner

14h-16h - Table ronde autour du projet Staff Exchange “Dominium”


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SPECIAL ISSUE: Towards urban constitutionalism ? Exploring constitutional rule and rule of law challenges in the urban age (Hague Journal on the Rule of Law XV (2023)


(image source: Springer)

Urban Constitutionalism and the Rule of Law: Historical Perspectives and Contemporary Challenges (M. Adams, D. De ruysscher, M.L.P. Groenleer, G. Leenknegt & G. van der Schyff) (OPEN ACCESS)
DOI 10.1007/s40803-023-00192-2
The 21st century may safely be called the ‘urban era’. The year 2007 marked the moment when for the first time in modern history, over 50% of the world’s population lived in urban areas. By the year 2050 almost 70% of humanity is projected to be urban, i.e., a human settlement with usually a high population density and an infrastructure of built environment. While the role of large cities, metropolitan areas and urban regions has been increasing, the political domain of the states, of which these cities or regions constitutionally form part, seems to be continuously shrinking. And although the rise of the urban is unlikely to lead to the disappearance of the sovereign-state model, the idea of states as having final authority is seriously challenged. This is caused by at least two simultaneously occurring trends: the transfer of tasks and responsibilities upwards, to the international and supranational level, through processes of globalization and a development downwards, to the local and regional level (or even the neighborhood or district), through processes of decentralization and regionalization. These combined trends have been called glocalization, a process exemplary for the complexity of modern society, in which authority shifts from hierarchy to networks, and the autonomy and unity of the central and sovereign state are under pressure. This special issue is the fruit of a workshop organized at Tilburg Law School on 25 November 2022, dedicated to the exploration of several constitutional and rule of law challenges posed by what we have dubbed urban constitutionalism.

The Rule of Law in Cities of the Medieval Low Countries: Community-Building in Context (D. De ruysscher) (OPEN ACCESS)
DOI 10.1007/s40803-023-00197-x
Urban communities were established in the twelfth and thirteenth century with the aid of legal concepts that comprised early notions of the rule of law. Cities were envisaged as “communes”, which referred to popular sovereignty. In a first period, urban citizenship was flexible and closely related to place of residence. From around 1220 this model came under increasing pressure. In order to safeguard the interests of the most affluent citizens, large guilds were established. Status determined rights, and there were significant inequalities even among citizens. Ideas of democratic democracy and the civic virtues of citizenship were fostering reforms after 1250. Existing urban governments were expanded to include councils and burgomasters. A framework of checks and balances developed because the commune, now considered as the body of citizens and residents, was seen as a force coexisting with metropolitan institutions. The medieval examples show that, in response to economic and even global conditions, community-building and rule-of-law thinking were solutions offering a “unity-in-diversity”.

A Primacy of Privileges? Urban Constitutionalism, the Rule of Law and Late Medieval Bruges (Niels Fieremans)
DOI 10.1007/s40803-023-00193-1

This article explores the possibilities and limits of urban constitutionalism and its relation to the rule of law for fifteenth century Bruges. Late medieval Bruges was a city of great prominence where several important trade flows came together. Providing adequate justice was a top priority for the aldermen. Scholars have traditionally stressed the importance of privileges in providing this security. Privileges granted a theoretical protection but also entailed other deviations from the general rule. The grant of privileges lay the foundation of an unequal treatment of merchants. This article argues that, though these privileges were essential in protecting merchants, the aldermen of Bruges did not grant far-reaching procedural advantages to merchant communities. In doing so, the aldermen of Bruges ensured that certain basic notions, such as access to the aldermen of Bruges, equal opportunities before this court and the prevalence of Flemish law over foreign law, were present. In the city’s belief that proper justice equalled the common good, some embryonic notions of the rule of law become apparent. However, we should not overextend this argument. The city depended on these merchant communities. Therefore, the city was more susceptible to the leverage of the merchant communities, than, for example, the state. Bruges refused demands for procedural advantages for the most part of the fifteenth century, but once the presence of these communities became indispensable, the city had to give in and alter its legal framework.


Was There a Rule of Law in Early Modern Amsterdam? Mercantile Customary Law as a Test (Marco in 't Veld) (OPEN ACCESS)
DOI 10.1007/s40803-023-00194-0

This contribution intends to shed light on the development of the rule of law, particularly by questioning the existence of such rule of law in early modern Amsterdam. In literature, thinner and thicker definitions are given, mostly presented as a continuum. This contribution will focus on mercantile customary law as it is a legal source that hardly fits in the literature-based categories. The importance of customary law seems to have decreased parallel with the bureaucratization of law; similarly this legal source can be considered as relatively democratic as it was based on the consent of a certain community. This ambiguity was also part of an old debate among legal historians. Some have indeed argued that custom was indeed solely based on the tacit consent of communities while others claimed that custom was a legalistic source in the sense that it provided formal rules of decision often written down in a way very similar to law books. This debate runs parallel to the question to what extend merchants made use of public institutions in the organisation of their trades. With regard to early modern Amsterdam, this contribution argues on the basis of a variety of primary sources that lawyers and proctors had a relatively advanced legal system at their disposal in which moral convictions played an important role. The example of the city’s weigh house will be used to elaborate on the precise way the institutional and legal frameworks were applied in mercantile practice. It will be concluded that many mercantile customary norms can be linked to institutions like the weigh house, but that this institutionalisation was not necessarily at odds with a continuation or even development of democratic elements. Especially the guilds functioned as a vehicle that helped to articulate tacit customs while having a great influence on Amsterdam politics at the same time. For this reason it should be seriously considered that Amsterdam already had a relatively advanced legal system that was dependent on bureaucratic institutions in the early modern period. Such system should be considered as an important step towards the presence of the rule of law.

The Scope of City Autonomy in the Constitutions of the Netherlands and the United Kingdom: Informality, Subsidiarity, Identity (Gert Jan A. Geertjes) (OPEN ACCESS)
DOI 10.1007/s40803-023-00195-z

One of the main issues in the debate on urban constitutionalism is how constitutions can recognize the increasingly important role of cities in relation to the nation-state. This paper examines what we talk about when we talk about city autonomy. This is a pressing question, particularly in the context of European unitary states. This paper pays special attention to the context of two of such states, namely the Netherlands and the United Kingdom (especially England). First, it explores the notion of subsidiarity, which implies that consideration should be given to the distinctiveness of the city as regards the allocation of power to the central and regional levels respectively. However, this idea in itself cannot justify the case for city autonomy, as the claim that the attribution of autonomous powers to cities may improve the quality of decision-making in the state as a whole needs additional empirical evidence. Second, it investigates the concept of city autonomy by exploring the fuzziness of the notion of the city. In addition, it introduces the concept of ‘spatial identities’ in order to explain the interdependence of (large) cities and their surrounding (rural) areas. Lastly, it concludes that if the importance of cities as constitutional actors is to be increased, it should be done so in an informal way rather than by the introduction of formal constitutional arrangements both from a pragmatic and a normative perspective.

Rule of Law Through the ‘Urban Turn’ in South African Constitutionalism (Marius Pieterse) (OPEN ACCESS)
DOI 10.1007/s40803-023-00196-y
The 1996 South African Constitution transformed municipalities from creatures of statute into an interdependent sphere of government, thereby enabling South African cities to carve out a space for autonomous urban governance, which is closely associated with the progressive realisation of socio-economic rights. This article considers how South African courts have deployed, reconfigured and channelled the rule of law in intergovernmental relations disputes, disputes concerning the developmental obligations of local government and socio-economic rights disputes, in order to fortify urban autonomy, to substantively guide its exercise and to ensure dynamic accountability for urban local governments’ role in ensuring the progressive realisation of socio-economic rights.

Market-Engaging Institutions: The Rule of Law, Resilience and Responsiveness in an Era of Institutional Flux (Nandini Ramanujam & Francesca Farrington) (OPEN ACCESS)
DOI 10.1007/s40803-023-00190-4

This article analyses the institutional conditions required to support a strategic state in being responsive to the changing demands of a market-economy, whilst maintaining a credible commitment to long-term policy goals. This article identifies a key pillar of a market economy that we believe is crucial to promoting inclusive economic growth; we term these institutions market-engaging institutions. We propose that market-engaging institutions may form a bridge between the flexibility required by a dynamic market economy and the stability demanded by the rule of law. We define market-engaging institutions as those institutions that facilitate greater political participation for marginalized groups, manage technological disruptions, and support human capital formation. Examples include social partnership agreements, collective bargaining coverage, trade union membership, education and training services, and research and development programmes. We suggest that mobilizing these institutions necessitates credible commitment. Further, we argue that through its commitment to the non-arbitrary administration of general rules the rule of law is an essential condition for signalling the state’s credible commitment. However, at times the requirement for the state to be flexible to the changing needs of market actors may conflict with the rule of law’s demand for constancy and stability. This article examines the delicate balancing act required to sustain a strategic, responsive, and credible state in an era of institutional flux.

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