30 June 2020

NEWS: British Legal History Conference 2021 postponed (NEW DATE: 6-9 July 2022)

Via the Edinburgh Legal History Blog, we learned that as a result of uncertainty due to the corona pandemic, the British legal history has been postponed from 2021 to 2022. Here the original post:

As a result of continuing uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic, in particular in relation to international travel, the organisers of the British Legal History Conference 2021 have decided to postpone the conference to 6-9 July 2022. This decision has been taken in consultation with the BLHC Continuation Committee.

The theme for BLHC 2022 is unchanged: Law and Constitutional Change and, as originally planned, the conference will be organised in association with the Irish Legal History Society.

A fresh call for papers will be made on 15 March, 2021.

Registration will open in February 2022.

The conference website will shortly be updated: the amended web address is expected to be

To preserve the usual biennial pattern of BLHCs, arrangements will be made by the BLHC Continuation Committee for the conference following the Queen’s, Belfast event to be held in 2024.

JOURNAL: Tijdschrift voor Rechtsgeschiedenis/Revue d'Histoire du Droit/The Legal History Review LXXXVIII (2020), nr. 1-2

(image source: Brill)

Laurent Waelkens † (De Dagelijkse Redactie/Le Comité de rédaction/The Editorial Committee) (open access)

Les traductions françaises des Commentaires de William Blackstone à la fin du XVIIIe siècle. Un chapitre de l'histoire de la découverte continentale de la common law anglaise (Filippo Ranieri)
The numerous translations through which the Commentaries on the Laws of England by William Blackstone – a milestone in the history of the common law – became known in France, and thus contributed for the first time to acquaint French jurists with English law, have been largely neglected by legal historians. The first section of the present contribution introduces the French anglophile visitors to England who, during the second half of the eighteenth century, disseminated the work of William Blackstone and its first translations in France. The biography and work of these first translators require a detailed examination. A second section assesses the influence of these translations, particularly in the legal and political debates on the English trial by jury in the context of revolutionary legislation. A third section considers the later translations of Blackstone’s work during the Napoleonic period and the following years. Finally, a call for further research outlines the impact of that translation literature.
A source of inspiration for legal historians: Raoul van Caenegem’s views on legal history (Dirk Heirbaut)
Although Raoul van Caenegem claimed otherwise, he had very strong views on what legal history should be. In his opinion, legal history belonged to the disciplinary field of history, not to law. The legal historian should not only chronicle past evolutions of the law, but also explain them. To this purpose, van Caenegem himself turned to sociology, trying to work with types and models in order to generalise. Van Caenegem rejected the idea of a Volksgeist and advocated to look at the European context in a comparative legal history. Nevertheless, his ‘Europe’ was limited to the founding members of the European Union, joined by England. He constructed legal history as a history of power and preferred to study groups of law makers instead of individuals. In his legal history, the European ‘Second Middle Ages’, from 1100 until 1750, stand out as the cradle of the modern rule of law, with a special role for the cities of medieval Flanders. Although well-known for a leading handbook promoting the idea of the ius commune, the common law of Europe, van Caenegem actually deemed custom to have been the primary source of law in medieval Europe, whereas the role of the ius commune had been, in his opinion, overestimated. As he showed many times during his distinguished career, van Caenegem wanted legal historians to take part in current debates. In the end, his main lesson from legal history was a plea for moderation, as taking a sound idea to its extreme leads to absurd or unintended consequences.
Die Schriftheimat von Vat. Reg. Lat. 886 (Codex Theodosianus libri IX-XVI) (A.J.B. Sirks) (open access)
It is generally assumed that the main manuscript of the Theodosian Code, Vat.Reg.Lat. 886, was copied in the 6th century in South-East Gaul, although Italy as provenance is not excluded. This manuscript contains marginal summaries, of which the origin is also attributed to Gaul. However, it can be shown that the largest group was made by one of the scribes (V2*) after 535 and before 554, on the very manuscript, that this was very likely done in Rome, and that the scribe was a Greek, perhaps a Byzantine official. This conclusion bears upon the provenance of Vat.Reg.Lat. 886. The errors in the Greek constitution CTh 9,45,4 imply that it cannot have been copied in the east. It must have been done in the west and not the Code, sent over in 437, was used (or else the Greek would be in order), but a copy of this Code, in which the scribe had misunderstood the Greek and made errors, which then figure in Vat.Reg.Lat. 886. The copying must have been done after 535 and just before the Summaria were made because the author of the Summaria was one of the correctors.
Zum Klagsziel der actio pigneraticia in personam contraria in D. 13,7,9pr. (Philipp Scheibelreiter) (open access)
In D. 13,7,9pr. (Ulp. 28 ad ed.) a debtor, who has handed over a res aliena as pledge to a creditor, will be sued with the iudicium contrarium. Whereas most handbooks of Roman law understand the aim of the actio pigneraticia contraria as the debtor’s duty to replace the res aliena by a new pledge, owned by the debtor, the sources do not necessarily lead to this conclusion. From the procedural perspective and the condemnatio pecuniaria of classical Roman law (instead of specific performance) this solution seems to be problematic and may have been developed under in any case influence of Justinianic law. Also on the basis of the concept of pignus as obligatio re contracta, it is submitted that the debtor’s obligation could only have concerned the alien thing itself; beside this, the aim of the actio contraria was compensation for the creditor’s damages.
Actor, colonus, conductor, procurator in einem Brief des Kaisers Honorius (Aldona Rita Jurewicz)
In this article the author presents three interpretations of the passage of emperor Honorius’ constitution that has been included in the Theodosian Code under the title quod iussu (CTh 2,31,1). The intention of the author is to prove the thesis that the emperor Honorius accepted a practically existing extension of the use of actio quod iussu to relations between landowners and overseers of the land property. Consequently the actio could be brought against the landowner or possessor of the land (dominus possessionis, cultor terrarum) on the ground that management personnel (servus, actor, conductor, colonus, procurator), regardless of their status libertatis, borrowed money with clear authorisation (iussum). The author does not share the opinion that the background of the emperor’s decision was the economic relation between the landowners and the management personnel.
Failing to observe holy days The evaluation of defense arguments in late medieval English ecclesiastical courts (Justin Scott Kirkland)
The implementation of canon law in the medieval ecclesiastical courts is an enigmatic issue. This article focuses on the types of defense arguments made by people accused of failing to observe holy days, as well as how courts judged such excuses. Even though failing to properly observe holy days – nonobservance – was a minor crime, the courts set a high standard when evaluating justifiable excuses for failing to observe holy days. The courts tended to reject most defense arguments. Despite the overall decline of the ecclesiastical courts in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, there was no decline in the high standards demanded by the courts in nonobservance cases.
Solórzano Pereira: la argumentación al modo del ius comune como práctica jurídico-cultural y política (Patrico Lazo)
The objective of this article is to characterize the argumental strategy of Juan de Solórzano Pereira in one of the chapters of the Política Indiana, by distinguishing the special features of his thought-structures and their goals. The methodology of this article is based on the Model-reader concept to characterize the adressee of Solórzanos’s work and to discover the effect he sought. Likewise, the article envolves the premise that historical legal argumentation rules are a meaningful manifestation of the Spanish colonial legal culture. The main outcome of this article is the evidence of the political function of Solórzanos’s legal argumentation.
Cassatieberoepen tegen criminele vonnissen en arresten in het Leiedepartement, 1796-1813 (Jos Monballyu)
In the department of the Lys, the cassation appeal against criminal judgments was introduced in 1796 and could be made by both the criminal convicts and the Public Prosecution Service. The first cassation appeal was lodged on 5 May 1796 and the last on 18 December 1813. In total, 187 (24%) of the 779 criminal judgments were appealed in cassation, in 172 cases by 319 criminal convicts and in 15 cases by the Public Prosecution Service. Of those 187 cassation appeals, 167 (89.3%) were rejected and 20 (10.7%) were accepted. In the latter cases, this led to the annulment of the contested judgment and, in most cases, the criminal proceedings were (partially) repeated for an equivalent, nearby criminal court.
Concepción Arenal and the place of women in modern international law (Ignacio de la Rasilla)
This article examines the long-forgotten first book-length treatise on international law ever published by a woman in the history of international law. The first part places Concepción Arenal’s Ensayo sobre el Derecho de gentes (1879) in the historical context of the dawn of the international legal codification movement and the professionalisation of the academic study of international law. The second part surveys the scattered treatment that women as objects of international law and women’s individual contributions to international law received in international law histories up to the early twentieth century. It then draws many parallels between Arenal’s work and the influential resolutions of the first International Congress of Women in 1915 and surveys related developments during the interwar years. The conclusion highlights the need of readdressing the invisibility of women in international legal history.
Book reviews:

  • La Loi des XII tables, Édition et commentaire, written by M. Humbert, 2018 By: A.J.B. Sirks
  • Ricerche sugli editti dei prefetti del pretorio del Cod. Bodl. Roe 18, Processo e documento, written by S. Schiavo, 2018 By: A.J.B. Sirks
  • « Es plantar un mondo nuevo », Légiférer aux anciens Pays-Bas (XIIe-XVIIIe siècle), written by Jean-Marie Cauchies, 2019 By: Serge Dauchy
  • Königliche Gerichtsbarkeit und Landfriedenssorge im deutschen Spätmittelalter, Eine Geschichte der Verfahren und Delegationsformen zur Konfliktbehandlung, written by H. Baumbach, 2017 By: P.L. Nève
  • Das Kleine Kaiserrecht, Text und Analyse eines mittelalterlichen Rechtsbuches, Leithandschrift der Fürstlichen Bibliothek Corvey, Bestandsaufnahme aller anderen Handschriften, Benennung Verfasser, Datierung, Quellen, Auswirkung, written by Dietlinde Munzel-Everling, 2019 By: P.L. Nève
  • Urkundenregesten zur Tätigkeit des deutschen Königs- und Hofgerichts bis 1451, Band 17: Die Zeit Ruprechts 1407-1410, B. Diestelkamp (Hrsg.), bearb. v. U. Rödel, 2019 By: P.L. Nève
  • Gemeine Bescheide, Teil 2: Reichshofrat 1613-1798, edited by P. Oestmann, 2017 By: P.L. Nève
  • Die Akten des Kaiserlichen Reichshofrats, Serie II: Antiqua, Band 4: Karton 278-424, W. Sellert (Hrsg.), bearb. v. T. Schenk, 2017 By: P.L. Nève
  • Fremde Traditionen des römischen Rechts, Einfluß, Wahrnehmung und Argument des «rimskoe pravo» im russischen Zarenreich des 19. Jahrhunderts, written by M. Avenarius, 2014 By: A.J.B. Sirks
Read more on Brill's website.

PODCAST: Michel Foucault, ou l'art de faire surgir la vérité (France Culture: Une vie, Une oeuvre)

(image source: France Culture)

Comment des valeurs, des réalités, ou des discours deviennent-ils vrais ? C'est à saisir cette naissance de la vérité que Michel Foucault s'est consacré. Comment a-t-il travaillé à faire surgir la vérité, selon cette manière de cerner l'espace où se produisent des effets de vérité, par-delà le jeu entre le vrai et le faux ? Non pas par un système de pensée, mais par une méthode confrontant plusieurs discours définis par leur historicité.
 The full podcast is here.

BOOK: Damigela HOXHA, Dialogando di duello, pace e giustizia al tramonto del Rinascimento. "Del Duello" (1573) di Giovanni Vendramini (Bonomia: University Press, 2019). ISBN: 9788869233951, pp. 144, € 20 - Dialogando di duello, pace e giustizia al tramonto del ...


Il concetto di onore e quello di giustizia endocetuale – di cui sono espressione il duello e la pace d’onore – rappresentano un momento emblematico dell’esperienza giuridica di età moderna. La formazione, lo sviluppo e i contenuti di quella vastissima letteratura, denominata prima ‘duellistica’ e poi ‘scienza dell’onore’, sono stati oggetto di importanti studi in Italia e all’estero negli ultimi trent’anni. Nell’ambito di tale settore di ricerca si inscrive questo volume, incentrato sul dialogo Del Duello del cavaliere veneziano Giovanni Vendramini (1510 ca.-1575 ca.). L’edizione di quest’opera – sinora inedita – è arricchita da una introduzione dell’autrice, in cui vengono analizzati da un lato il contesto socio-culturale in cui matura il dialogo, e dall’altro i profili del testo in cui maggiormente si manifestano spunti giuridici originali intorno alle consuetudini nobiliari del tempo.


Damigela Hoxha è ricercatrice a tempo determinato di Storia del diritto medievale e moderno presso il Dipartimento di Scienze giuridiche dell’Università di Bologna (sede di Ravenna), dove insegna Storia delle codificazioni moderne e Storia del diritto moderno e contemporaneo. Ha partecipato come relatrice a diversi convegni in Italia e all’estero. Ha pubblicato su importanti riviste di settore saggi sulla storia del diritto fra XVIII e XX secolo e il volume monografico La giustizia criminale napoleonica. A Bologna fra prassi e insegnamento universitario (2016).

More information with the publisher.

29 June 2020

REVIEW ARTICLE: Danielle CHARETTE & Max SKJÖNSBERG, 'State of the Field: The History of Political Thought' (History) (OPEN ACCESS)

(image source: Wiley)

This article surveys the state of the field of the history of political thought. The premise of the discipline is that political arguments and ideas have developed historically and thus have theoretical histories that can be located and traced. But, as our survey of the field shows, what counts as ‘context’ is up for debate, and contextual methods have become more sensitive to present‐day concerns. The border between the history of political thought and political theory is increasingly porous. We begin with some of the main claims and criticisms of the ‘Cambridge’ method of political thought, chiefly associated with Quentin Skinner, John Dunn and J. G. A. Pocock. We then consider newer developments, such as the ‘global turn’, which have steered the discipline beyond its traditionally European or male subject matter. While this shift in direction is welcome, we caution against a history that abstracts away from local sites of political contestation. Finally, we stress that (Western) historians moving beyond the West have even more reason to stay conscious of their own linguistic and cultural limitations.
Read the full article in open access here.

ARTICLE: Marie SEONG-HAK KIM, "Civil Law and Civil War: Michel de L'Hôpital and the Ideals of Legal Unification in Sixteenth-Century France" (Law & History Review XXVIII (2010), No. 3, 791-826) (OPEN ACCESS)

(image source: CUP)

First paragraph:
François Hotman quipped that a jurist trained solely in Roman law would feel, upon finding himself in a French court, as if he had landed among the savages of the new world.1 The image of Hotman’s hapless jurist captures a conundrum widespread in early modern France, which the late French historian Michel Reulos dubbed “la quaestio vexata of the sixteenth century”: judges and lawyers in France studied Roman law at the universities but had to plead according to customary law once they started practicing...
Read the full article here.

BOOK: Lorenzo GAGLIARDI & Laura PEPE (Eds.), Dike. Essays on Greek Law in Honor of Alberto Maffi (Milano: Giuffrè Francis Lefebvre, 2019). ISBN: 9788828803034, pp. XX-396, € 40,00



The essays collected in this volume are meant to honor of Alberto Maffi, two years after his retirement. They are all on Greek law, the subject to which professor Maffi has devoted most of his life and scholarship. The papers, whose authors are among the most eminent scholars from all over the world, deal with the main topic of ancient Greek law (private law, criminal law, constitutional law), and range from archaic and hellenistic Greece to Egypt in Roman times. The title of this Festschrift, Dike, celebrates the first international review in Greek and Hellenistic law that Alberto Maffi established, together with Eva Cantarella, twenty years ago.


Lorenzo Gagliardi is associate professor at the Department of Private Law and Legal History, Università degli Studi di Milano.
Laura Pepe is research fellow at the Department of Private Law and Legal History, Università degli Studi di Milano.

More information available with the publisher.

26 June 2020

VAN CAENEGEM PRIZE 2020: Dr. Nadeera RUPESINGHE (Sri Lanka National Archives)

(image source: dr. Nadeera Rupesinghe)

The jury of the Van Caenegem Prize 2020, attributed to the best article in legal history written by a young scholar in a two-year period following the previous ESCLH Biennial Conference (in this case, the 2018 conference at the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris), goes to Dr. Nadeera Rupesinghe (Sri Lanka National Archives).

Ms. Rupesinghe published the article 'Do you know the ninth commandment? Tensions of the oath in Dutch colonial Sri Lanka' in our society's journal Comparative Legal History VII (2019), N° 1, pp. 37-66 (DOI 10.1080/2049677X.2019.1613308).

The Van Caenegem Prize is normally awarded at the ESCLH Biennial Conference. Due to the COVID-19-crisis, we have been compelled to postpone the conference to 2021.

The Jury of the Van Caenegem Prize 2020 and the ESCLH Executive Council wish to express their warmest congratulations to Ms. Rupesinghe on obtaining this award.

JOURNAL: Special Issue Histoire du droit international, ed. R. CAHEN, F. DHONDT & E. FIOCCHI MALASPINA] (Clio@Thémis: revue européenne électronique d'histoire du droit/European Electronic journal in Legal History n° 18 (2020)

(image source: Clio@Thémis)

L’essor récent de l’histoire du droit international (Raphaël Cahen, Elisabetta Fiocchi Malaspina & Frederik Dhondt)
First paragraph:
Ce dossier spécial est consacré à l’histoire du droit international. Il regroupe sept contributions portant sur divers aspects de cette sous-discipline de l’histoire du droit qui connaît un essor historiographique majeur dans le monde, mais plus relatif en France [1]. En effet, aucune section ne portait sur l’histoire du droit international dans l’ouvrage collectif récent qui présentait les tendances actuelles et les nouveaux champs de l’histoire du droit en France [2]. Néanmoins, on ne peut omettre de mentionner les travaux d’Emmanuelle Tourme-Jouannet, de Dominique Gaurier ou encore ceux de Dzovinar Kévonian et Philippe Rygiel qui font exception dans un champ académique français relativement peu fréquenté ni institutionnalisé [3].
Between private and public law : The contribution of late medieval ius commune to the conceptualisation of diplomatic representation (Dante Fedele)
This paper examines the development, by late medieval ius commune jurists, of a notion of diplomatic representation which is rooted in the doctrine of private law agency. In particular, it endeavours to study the basis and limits of ambassadors’ negotiating powers, by analysing some issues relating to procuration and the ratification of treaties. The conclusion illustrates the persistence of the central role of this notion of diplomatic representation in the discussion of the matter right up until the late eighteenth century, thus allowing us to appreciate the importance of the contribution made by late medieval ius commune to the early modern discussion of the status of the ambassador.
Renonciations et possession tranquille : l’abbé de Saint-Pierre, la paix d’Utrecht et la diplomatie de la Régence (Frederik Dhondt)
Abbot Saint-Pierre (1658-1743) is one of the most studied early 18th century political thinkers. His “utopian” project of perpetual peace was published during the Utrecht Peace Congress (1712-1713), where plenipotentiaries from various European powers ended the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1714). As Merle Perkins demonstrated, Saint-Pierre’s conceptions on the state of nature and man’s violent instinct were similar to Hobbes’. Saint-Pierre, by contrast, believed in the possibility to overcome the violent state of nature. The key element here was the freezing of reciprocal legal claims by monarchs, which were always a source of conflict. Leaving quarrels behind, the “European Union” would be able to ensure the “tranquil possession” of sovereigns. The diplomatic context after the Peace of Utrecht was more compatible with his position than his first version (1712), wherein he castigated balance of power-politics. The peace was based on the mutual renunciations by the most prominent pretenders to the Spanish Succession. Saint-Pierre redacted the 1717 edition of his Projet to convince the Regent’s diplomats. Their efforts focused on finding a solution for the duchies of Parma and Piacenza, and the Grand-Duchy of Tuscany. The context of Regency diplomacy explains the attempts of Saint-Pierre to deliver a credible message, able to convince the actors of French foreign policy. 
Hauterive et l’école des diplomates (1800-1830) (Raphaël Cahen)
Alexandre d’Hauterive (1754-1830) was one of the most important members of the French foreign Office, from the time of the Directoire until the July Monarchy. Although one of the founders of a school of diplomats, which lasted until his death, d’Hauterive remains remarkably understudied in historiography. His diplomatic academy maintained an ambiguous relation with the law of nations. Despite numerous efforts and proposed projects, the diplomatic profession never fully professionalized during the thirty years of the academy’s existence. A biographical case-study of three former students of this school, all of whom eventually rose to the presidency of the Litigation committee of the French Foreign Office, will be used to analyse the Juridification of international relations.
 « Toil of the noble world » : Pasquale Stanislao Mancini, Augusto Pierantoni and the international legal discourse of 19th century Italy (Elisabetta Fiocchi Malaspina)
The aim of this article is to reconstruct, from a legal historical point of view, the complexity and the meaning of international law in the Italian peninsula during the 19th century. The paper will analyse different entanglements that constituted the core of nineteenth-century Italian international legal discourse. It is structured in four sections, dealing respectively with : 1) the principle of nationality elaborated by Pasquale Stanislao Mancini and its repercussion both on private and public international law ; 2) the return to the historical origins of Italian international law and the role played by comparative constitutional law ; 3) the implementation and translation of particular legal genres, such as the attempts to codify international law ; 4) colonial education, including legal education, through the creation of the Scuola diplomatico-coloniale (colonial and diplomatic school).
After the Great War : International Law in Austria’s First Republic, 1918–mid 1920 (Sebastian M Spitra)
This article studies the role of international law in the Austrian republic after the First World War – a time of hope and concerns for the international legal order. Although the war was perceived as backlash for international law, its scholarship expanded in Austria until the mid-1920 s. The Austrian international lawyers strived to integrate themselves in the broader transnational academic community. Their contribution to this field developed out of the constitutional debates of the Habsburg Empire. However, the Austrian jurists also omitted to treat certain international issues in their scholarship, such as the relief program by the League of Nations for Austria’s economy in crisis
Historiographies of International Law from a Chinese Perspective (Maria Adèle Carrai)
One objective of the emerging global history of international law is to broaden its scope in an attempt to overcome Eurocentrism. In this context, China, not only as an emerging global power that can influence the creation of the normative principles grounding the future world order, but also with its history of international law, offers a counter-teleology to the classic progress narrative of international law understood as a science. This article presents a critical summary and analysis of the approaches of a selection of Chinese scholars to the history of international law. The current debates seem to be closely linked to a new conception of modernity that does not correspond with the Western conception. The Chinese perspective, in this sense, can help broaden the history of international law, especially when that history claims to be global. 
Comment et pourquoi écrire l’histoire du droit international ? Le cas de l’abolition de l’esclavage (Anne-Charlotte Martineau)
Over the last decade, there have been debates opposing international lawyers on the one hand, and historians and legal historians on the other, on how and why to write the history of international law. The objective of this article is to participate in these debates through a case study : that of the abolition of slavery and its inclusion in the historiography of international law. The history of slavery and in particular that of its abolition has aroused renewed interest within the discipline of international law. Some international lawyers have turned to history in order to draw lessons from the successful ways in which international law ought to have abolished the transatlantic slave trade in the nineteenth century. Others have examined the history of the codification of slavery in international law in the light of European colonial imperialism. It will emerge from our analysis that international lawyers’ renewed interest in the history of slavery is rooted in the present, in the sense that they want to better understand the past in order to better act in the present. This presentism is not a problem in itself ; it becomes a problem only when the recourse to history ceases to be critical and serves merely to justify – and thus to perpetuate – existing professional projects and international legal institutions. 
 Read all articles in open access here.

(source: ESILHIL Blog)

JOURNAL: Journal of the History of International Law/Revue d'histoire du droit international XXII (2019)/1

(image source: Brill)

The Heidelberg Circle of Jurists and Its Struggle against Allied Jurisdiction: Amnesty-Lobbyism and Impunity-Demands for National Socialist War Criminals (1949–1955) (Philip Glahé)
After the Second World War, the Allies began a program of legal prosecution of war criminals who were to be sentenced in fair and public processes. However, these processes soon evoked vivid criticism, and by no means simply from former National Socialists. The Heidelberg Circle of Jurists (‘Heidelberger Juristenkreis’) is an example of a heterogeneous lobby group including victims of National Socialism as well as supporters of this ideology demanding amnesty for German war criminals between 1949 and 1955. Numbering forty high-ranking judges, lawyers, politicians, professors and church representatives, the Circle had access to a vast network and had a considerable impact on Allied and German war-crimes policy. On the basis of new source material, this article examines the Circle’s evolution, its apparently contradictory composition, its argumentation and its aims, by focusing on three of its members, the former minister of justice of the Weimar Republic and legal philosopher Gustav Radbruch, the internationalist Erich Kaufmann and the Nuremberg lawyer Hellmut Becker.
Training, Ideas and Practices. The Law of Nations in the Long Eighteenth Century: An Introduction to the Focus Section (Raphaël Cahen, Frederik Dhondt and Elisabetta Fiocchi Malaspina) (open access)

Language and Power: The Dragoman as a Link in the Chain Between the Law of Nations and the Ottoman Empire (Zülâl Muslu)
The paper attempts to take a different look into the Law of Nations through the role of dragomans (official translators) in the making of modern International law. Addressing the power of language above its mere linguistic meaning, also considering the way it is taught, socially shaped, productive and lasting, this paper intends to illustrate the general epistemic framework governing dragomans as an original social and professional body in order to better understand their unforeseen impact on the Ottoman understanding of and integration into modern international law. The paper argues that legal transformations are also the result of legal translations, which intrinsically imply the cultural and social backgrounds of the translators. It discusses how the progressive formation of the cosmopolitan professional body of dragomans led to both develop a bolted technicality and contribute to the uniformization of legal thought and language by the nineteenth century.
La conception des devoirs du négociateur en Nouvelle-France: Héritage métropolitain ou cas particulier? (Alice Bairoch de Sainte-Marie)
Le dix-septième siècle voit l’émergence de nouveaux modes de négociation ainsi que la naissance de théories sur la diplomatie. On assiste à la parution de plusieurs ouvrages sur le sujet tels que L’ambassadeur de Jean Hotman et De la manière de négocier avec les souverains de François de Callières. C’est également l’époque où la France débute la fondation de colonies dans le Nouveau Monde et, en particulier, en Amérique du Nord. Dans cette région aussi, de nouvelles formes de négociations apparaissent lors des contacts entre les envoyés du roi de France et les tribus amérindiennes, axées sur l’échange et le dialogue, la découverte de l’autre et de sa culture. Dans cet article, nous allons chercher à savoir si les autorités coloniales s’inspirent des principes de diplomatie européenne lors de la négociation de traités avec les Amérindiens. Pour ce faire, nous nous pencherons sur les deux ouvrages susmentionnés, sur la correspondance entre le ministre de la marine et les colonies françaises ainsi que sur les écrits d’auteurs, voyageurs et explorateurs des dix-septième et dix-huitième siècles.
 The Mutual Guarantee of the Peace of Westphalia in the Law of Nations and Its Impact on European Diplomacy
This paper seeks to investigate how the mutual guarantee clauses of the treaties of Westphalia, which ended the Thirty Years War in 1648, affected European diplomacy until the late eighteenth century. It will first analyse the reception and impact of the guarantee of the Peace of Westphalia in the European Law of Nations and in subsequent treaty law. Secondly, it will assess the practical impact of this feature of the Law of Nations on European diplomacy, and how this influence changed over time. This will also include an analysis of how diplomacy and shifting power-political currents altered the content of the guarantee in the Law of Nations. In analysing the guarantee’s influence on diplomacy, the paper places a particular emphasis on Franco-Imperial and Swedish-Imperial relations, as well as the perception of the guarantee among diplomats and other political actors during political, constitutional and confessional conflicts within the Holy Roman Empire.
Transforming the Law of Nations: The Case of the Eighteenth Century Italian Peninsula (Elisabetta Fiocchi Malaspina)
This article aims to demonstrate and investigate how natural law and law of nations theories were used and adapted within the context of the Italian peninsula of the late eighteenth century. It proposes to retrace the ways in which the texts of the so called Ecole romande du droit naturel and particularly the Droit des gens ou principes de la loi naturelle, appliqués à la conduite et aux affaires des Nations et des Souverains by Emer de Vattel (1758) were used in and adapted to the Italian environment, which was extremely different from the one in which these texts were written and published, in order to contribute to the legal transformation process of the Italian states during the eighteenth century
La dignité impériale des rois de France en Orient: Titulatures et traductions dans la diplomatie franco-ottomane (Victor Simon)
Depuis la première moitié du seizième siècle, les rois de France semblent être présentés sous une titulature impériale dans la traduction française des capitulations. La notion d’empire apparaît pourtant étrangère à la conception turque de l’État. Le titre d’imparatorluk n’apparaît d’ailleurs nulle part dans le texte original des capitulations. La titulature impériale attribuée au roi de France découle en effet d’une traduction hasardeuse du terme de padishah par les drogmans attachés au service de l’ambassade. D’origine perse, ce titre sans réel équivalent en Europe signifie littéralement «grand dirigeant» ou «dirigeant des dirigeants». En reconnaissant cette qualité au roi de France, le sultan turc met ainsi en avant une prééminence du roi de France sur les autres princes européens. Cette rhétorique s’inscrit alors dans la construction de relations internationales franco-turques ouvertement tournées contre l’empire Habsbourg.
Droit et histoire dans la formation diplomatique d’après les écrits sur l’ambassadeur et l’art de négocier (XVIIe-début XVIIIe siècle) (Dante Fedele)
La formation diplomatique est une des questions majeures abordées dans les écrits sur l’ambassadeur et l’art de négocier de l’époque moderne. Dès la fin du XVIe siècle, le modèle du « parfait ambassadeur », qui plongeait ses racines dans la culture humaniste, est soumis à une critique serrée visant une redéfinition du statut politique et culturel de l’ambassadeur. Au fil du XVIIe siècle et du début du XVIIIe, on assiste à la formulation de programmes de formation plus spécifiques, centrés sur la connaissance de la documentation diplomatique et de l’histoire moderne, conçue comme une source du ius gentium. Cette réflexion, menée parfois en polémique ouverte avec la mauvaise formation des ambassadeurs, va jouer un rôle important à l’égard de la ‘professionnalisation’ de l’ambassadeur à l’époque moderne.
Book reviews:

  • Stalin’s Soviet Justice. ‘Show’ Trials, War Crimes Trials, and Nuremberg, edited by David M. Crowe (Lauri Mälksoo)
  • The Process of International Legal Reproduction: Inequality, Historiography, Resistance, written by Rose Parfitt (Jessie Hohmann)
  • Sovereignty at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919, written by Leonard V. Smith (Marcus M. Payk)
Read more on Brill's website.

BOOK: Martina PIERFEDERICI, «Tentare ogni mezzo onde riunirli». Polizia e conflitti familiari a Bologna nel XIX secolo (Bonomia: University Press, 2019). ISBN: 9788869231193, pp. 168, € 25


Polizia e famiglia: cosa mette in relazione queste due realtà nella Bologna dell’Ottocento? È la conflittualità che quotidianamente sconvolgeva la vita domestica dei bolognesi a determinare il tempestivo intervento dei corpi di polizia del restaurato Stato pontificio. Questi – combinando con modalità e sensibilità peculiari la razionalità amministrativa francese e il paternalismo dell’autorità ecclesiastica della seconda età moderna – agivano nei confronti di conflitti matrimoniali e scandali domestici (adulteri, stupri, gravidanze illegittime, separazioni e unioni di fatto) ricorrendo a procedure compositive tipiche delle figure di mediazione di antico regime, prime fra tutti il clero e il ceto nobiliare, mirate a mantenere la stabilità matrimoniale e la pace sociale anche laddove emergevano evidenti violazioni delle leggi penali. Le fonti di questa ricerca sono i numerosi fascicoli prodotti dalla Direzione provinciale di polizia di Bologna tra il 1814 e il 1859: un materiale ricco e variegato che permette di osservare come le parti agivano e interagivano in una società che andava rivedendo le proprie regole e i propri valori fondanti.


Martina Pierfederici si è laureata in Scienze Politiche presso l’Università di Bologna (2008) ed è dottore di ricerca in Storia moderna e contemporanea (2015). Ha partecipato al progetto PRIN 2011 “La prassi della giustizia in Italia fra antico regime ed età napoleonica: dal diritto comune ai codici”. I temi principali della sua ricerca riguardano il problema della tutela dell’onore, la famiglia, la nascita delle forze di polizia e il carcere.

More information here.

25 June 2020

IM MEMORIAM: Thomas BRUHA, 'Prof. dr. Heinhard Steiger, LL.M. (Harvard) (1933-2019)' (Archiv des Völkerrechts LVII (2019), 3, 261-265) (OPEN ACCESS)

(image source: Mohr Siebeck)

Prof. em. Heinhard Steiger, one of the most important scholars in international legal history after 1945, has sadly passed away in July 2019. An Im Memoriam was published in the journal Archiv des Völkerrechts on 18 February 2020. The text can be read here.

(image source: MPIeR

Professor Steiger's articles are collected in two volumes of the series Studien zur Geschichte des Völkerrechts. In 2010, Prof. Steiger published his monograph on the law between polities in the Carolingian era (Böhlau). In 2011, Prof. Steiger co-edited a volume on Universality and Continuity in International Law, with numerous contributions by leading international legal historians (Eleven Publishing).

The University of Giessen published the following message:

(source: ESILHIL Blog)

BOOK: Mark W. ORMROD, Women and Parliament in Later Medieval England (Cham: Springer, 2020). ISBN 978-3-030-45219-3, 51,99 EUR

(Source: Springer)

Springer is publishing a new book on the role played by women in the workings and business of the English Parliament in the late Middle Ages.


This Palgrave Pivot provides the first ever comprehensive consideration of the part played by women in the workings and business of the English Parliament in the later Middle Ages. Breaking new ground, this book considers all aspects of women’s access to the highest court of medieval England. Women were active supplicants to the Crown in Parliament, and sometimes appeared there in person to prosecute cases or make political demands. It explores the positions of women of varying rank, from queens to peasants, vis-à-vis this male institution, where they very occasionally appeared in person but were more usually represented by written petitions. A full analysis of these petitions and of the official records of parliament reveals that there were a number of issues on which women consistently pressed for changes in the law and its administration, and where the Commons and the Crown either championed or refused to support reform. Such is the concentration of petitions on the subjects of dower and rape that these may justifiably be termed ‘women’s issues’ in the medieval Parliament.


W. Mark Ormrod is Professor Emeritus of History at the University of York. Specialising in the politics of later Medieval England, he has authored Political Life in Medieval England, 1300-1450 (1995) and Edward III (2011). Most recently, with Bart Lambert and Jonathan Mackman, he has published Immigrant England, 1300-1550 (2019).  

More info here

BOOK: David ORREGO FERNANDEZ, La Formación Jurídica Del Trabajo En Colombia (Madrid: Tirant Editorial, 2020). ISBN 9788413138442, 18.00 EUR

(Source: Tirant Editorial)

Tirant Editorial has published “La Formación Jurídica Del Trabajo en Colombia”.


En este libro se hace un recorrido por los lenguajes que fueron confi gurando el campo jurídico
del trabajo en Colombia. El argumento central radica en que aquello que denominamos derecho
laboral fue resultado del cruce entre dos estructuras de razonamiento jurídico, a saber, una conciencia
vinculada con las lógicas del código civil (o conciencia jurídica clásica) y una conciencia
que comienza a centrar su mirada en las relaciones desiguales, producto del proceso de industrialización (conciencia jurídica social o de Derecho Social). La producción normativa que hizo posible
el derecho del trabajo no se dio de manera unívoca y fue desarrollada con diferentes ritmos y
periodizaciones (jurisprudencia, proyectos de ley, políticas de gobierno, etc), además, este nuevo
estatuto estuvo profundamente permeado por los contextos políticos e ideológicos imperantes en
esa época. Este libro resulta importante para los estudiosos del derecho, ya que narra una historia
en la cual las normas y sus contextos sociales de producción tuvieron una conexión íntima, pero,
igualmente, este relato puede resultar útil para historiadores y estudiosos de las ciencias sociales,
en tanto se estudian las lógicas internas del derecho, tomándose en serio el fenómeno jurídico en
su profundidad histórica.


Profesor de la Facultad de Derecho y Ciencias Políticas de la Universidad de Antioquia(Medellín). Doctor en Derecho de la Universidad de los Andes (Bogotá), Magister en Historia de la Universidad Nacional y Abogado de la Universidad de Antioquia (Medellín). Actualmente, es profesor del curso de Teoría del Derecho en la Facultad de Derecho y Ciencias Políticas de la Universidad de Antioquia y coordina la Maestría en Derecho de la misma Universidad. Sus líneas de investigación se encuentran entre la historia y la teoría del derecho, con énfasis en el estudio del derecho del trabajo y la formación de la clase obrera en Colombia.

More info here

BOOK: Gustavo A. NOBILE MATTEI, "Turpis quaestus". Profili criminali del meretricio all'alba della Modernità (secc. XVI-XVII) (Bonomia: University Press, 2020)



La prostituzione costituisce una costante della storia dell’uomo, che interroga il diritto sotto diversi profili. In determinate epoche, complici le trasformazioni politiche, religiose e culturali, le rispostefornite dall’ordinamento possono conoscere mutamenti significativi. Tra Cinque e Seicento, nel vortice della polemica confessionale, il meretricio finisce al centro di un vivace dibattito intellettuale fra chi auspica la criminalizzazione e chi difende la tradizionale politica della tolleranza e del male minore. In un percorso che si snoda tra le argomentazioni di giuristi, teologi, filosofi e letterati, la presente ricerca mira a ricostruire il fenomeno nell’Europa di ius commune, senza trascurare un focus sulle esperienze delle realtà territoriali più significative. Legislazione, dottrina e prassi che scaturiscono da una società plurale restituiscono un quadro complesso, fortemente segnato dalle inquietudini e dai paradossi del tempo.


Gustavo Adolfo Nobile Mattei è ricercatore di Storia del diritto medievale e moderno presso il Dipartimento di Scienze giuridiche dell’Università degli Studi di Verona. È autore di diversi saggi sul diritto criminale nellaprima età moderna, sulla produzione consiliare nel tardo diritto comunee sul diritto longobardo.

More information here.

BOOK: Merry E. WIESNER-HANKS, Christianity and Sexuality in the Early Modern World Regulating Desire, Reforming Practice, 3rd ed. (London: Routledge, 2020). ISBN 9780367201791, 32.99 GBP

(Source: Routledge)

Routledge is publishing a new edition of Christianity and Sexuality in the Early Modern World.


Christianity and Sexuality in the Early Modern World surveys the ways in which people from the time of Luther and Columbus to that of Thomas Jefferson used Christian ideas and institutions to regulate and shape sexual norms and conduct, and examines the impact of their efforts.

Global in scope and geographic in organization, the book contains chapters on Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa and Asia, and North America. It explores key topics, including marriage and divorce, fornication and illegitimacy, clerical sexuality, same-sex relations, witchcraft and love magic, moral crimes, and interracial relationships. The book sets its findings within the context of many historical fields, including the history of gender and sexuality, and of colonialism and race.

Each chapter in this third edition has been updated to reflect new scholarship, particularly on the actual lived experience of people around the world. This has resulted in expanded coverage of nearly every issue, including notions of the body and of honor, gendered religious symbols, religious and racial intermarriage, sexual and gender fluidity, the process of conversion, the interweaving of racial identity and religious ideologies, and the role of Indigenous and enslaved people in shaping Christian traditions and practices. It is ideal for students of the history of sexuality, early modern Christianity, and early modern gender.


Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks is Distinguished Professor of History Emerita at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, USA. The senior editor of the Sixteenth Century Journal, she is author or editor of thirty books and many articles that have appeared in English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Greek, Chinese, Turkish, and Korean.


Introduction; 1. Christianity to 1500; 2. Protestant Europe; 3. Catholic and Orthodox Europe; 4. Latin America and the Caribbean; 5. Africa and Asia; 6. North America; 7. Conclusions

More info here

24 June 2020

REVISED CALL FOR PAPERS: 39th Annual Conference of the Australian and New Zealand Law and History Society - “One Empire, Many Colonies, Similar or Different Histories?” (DEADLINE: 31 July 2020)

(Source: ANZLHS)

We received a revised call for papers for the next Australian and New Zealand Law and History Society annual meeting.

Abstracts are invited from scholars bringing historical perspectives on law who wish to gather at The University of Auckland and AUT University – there to listen to and discuss papers and panels on aspects of law in history.

Well that was the original plan, but since the impact of COVID-19, travel restrictions and university funding deficits, we now also seek expressions of interest from those who may wish to present a paper to a dual format conference or virtual-only conference if either possibility turns out to be feasible.

The 2020 theme invites a comparative lens on British imperial and colonial histories but other law in history topics will be favourably considered. Proposals from postgraduate and early career researchers are welcome. Individual paper proposals and panel proposals must include an abstract (no more than 300 words) and a biographical statement (no more than 100 words per speaker).

All abstracts must be submitted to Karen Fairweather: by 31 July 2020

If the ANZLHS executive decides to proceed with the conference in one format or another, the Organising Committee will notify all those whose abstracts have been accepted for the programme by the end of August. If a real conference takes place, graduate students may apply for Kercher Scholarships to assist them in attending. Please apply to Katherine Sanders: by 30 September. Graduate attendees may also wish to enter for the Forbes Society Prize.

The Society’s peer-reviewed journal law&history will consider submissions from those who present papers at the conference.

CALL FOR APPLICANTS: 4 PhD Research Assistants (University of Regensburg) (DEADLINE: 1 September 2020)

We learned of 4 part-time PhD positions for the project “Pre-Modern Metropolitanism” at the University of Regensburg.

The University of Regensburg is an innovative campus university with more than 21,000 students.Oriented towards interdisciplinarity, it offers a wide range of research activity and study opportunities for young people both domestic and from abroad. The Research Training Group 2337, funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), consists of scholars from the fields of History, Art History, Legal History, Social and Economic history, Early Ecclesiastical History and Patristics, Classical Archaeology, Liturgical Studies, Romance linguistics, Political Science, English Literary and Cultural Studies, and further other associated disciplines and cooperation partners. The Research Training Group focuses on questions concerning the constitution, representation, impact, and transformation of metropolitan cities from the Greco-Roman antiquity towards the threshold of industrialization.  

We offer 4 positions as PhD Research Assistant (m/f/d). The part-time contract within the project “Pre-Modern Metropolitanism” (26.065 hours per week) will be initially limited until September 30, 2021. An extension for another 18 months is scheduled. The salary follows TV-L E 13 (German public service standard).
Your assignments:
• Research activity within the DFG-RTG 2337 “Pre-Modern Metropolitanism” at the University of Regensburg
• Authoring a doctoral thesis in one of the disciplines within the RTG
• Contributions to the DFG-RTG´s research and qualification programme. For an English summary, please consult
Our Requirements:
• An academic degree (masters or equivalent) with outstanding results, preferably in one of the disciplines within the DFG-RTG “Pre-Modern Metropolitanism”
• A sophisticated, original yet compatible exposé for a topically relevant and innovative PhD project, reflecting intensive engagement with the research concept of the DFG-RTG “PreModern Metropolitanism” (3 pages max.)

• A realistic 36 month (3 year) work schedule proving abstraction skills, academic approach, and professional attitude (1 page max.)
• A short working bibliography (state-of-the-art) conforming to the publication standards of your academic discipline (1 page max.)
• High motivation as well as academic and personal ability to act constructively within a diverse team of high-potential junior researchers and faculty
• Excellent analytical and writing skills (upon consultation with your academic advisors, there is the possibility to write and publish the doctoral dissertation in other languages than German)

The University of Regensburg targets to increase the share of women in the workforce. Therefore, qualified females are explicitly encouraged to submit their applications. Moreover, the university advocates for the compatibility of family and career (for further information in German, see Disabled applicants with equal qualifications will receive preferential treatment within the hiring procedure. Please refer to your disability status already in your application.
Please note that expenses that may arise in the context of an eventual job interview cannot be reimbursed. For further queries please contact Professor Jörg Oberste (email:
phone: +49 941 943-3536).
We are looking forward to your detailed application. Please send the documents in one PDF file to by September 1, 2020.

JOURNAL: Grotiana, Volume 41 (2020): Issue 1 (Jun 2020)

Cover Grotiana
(Source: Brill)

We learned of the publication of the latest issue of Grotiana. Here the table of contents:

Hugo Grotius’s Views on Consent, Contract and the Christian Commonwealth – Introductory Remarks
By: Wim Decock, pp. 1-12

Grotius’s Doctrine of Alliances with Infidels and the Idea of Respublica Christiana
By: Orazio Condorelli, pp. 13-39

The Binding Force of Unilateral Promises in the Ius Commune before Grotius
By: Giovanni Chiodi
Pages: 40–58

Grotius’s Impact on the Scandinavian Theory of Contract Law
By: Sören Koch, pp. 59-87

Grotius’s Contract Theory in the Works of His German Commentators: First Explorations
By: Paolo Astorri, pp. 88-107

Making Use of the Testimonies: Suárez and Grotius on Natural Law
By: Sydney Penner, pp. 108-136

Vitoria, Suárez, and Grotius: James Brown Scott’s Enduring Revival
By: Mark Somos and Joshua Smeltzer, pp. 137-162

Consent and the Ethics of International Law Revisiting Grotius’s System of States in a Secular Setting
By: Christoph Stumpf, pp. 163-176

Nicolaus Ignaz Königsmann: Natural Law in Prague Before 1752
By: Ivo Cerman, pp. 177-197

Admired Adversary: Wrestling with Grotius the Exegete in Cotton Mather’s Biblia Americana (1693–1728)
By: Jan Stievermann, pp. 198-235

Territorial Sovereignty: A Philosophical Exploration, written by Anna Stilz
By: Tom Sparks, pp. 237-245

Hugo Grotius’ Remonstrantie of 1615. Facsimile, Transliteration, Modern Translations and Analysis, written by David Kromhout and Adri Offenberg
By: Joke Spaans, pp. 246-250

Die politischen Gesetze des Mose: Entstehung und Einflüsse der politia-judaica-Literatur in der Frühen Neuzeit, written by Markus M. Totzeck
By: Sina Rauschenbach, pp. 251-254

More information with Brill.

BOOK: Elisabeth HEIJMANS, The Agency of Empire: Connections and Strategies in French Overseas Expansion (1686-1746) (Leiden: Brill, 2019). ISBN: 9789004409439, €88.00

Cover The Agency of Empire: Connections and Strategies in French Overseas Expansion (1686-1746)
(Source: Brill)


Series: European Expansion and Indigenous Response, Volume: 32

In The Agency of Empire: Connections and Strategies in French Expansion (1686-1746) Elisabeth Heijmans places directors and their connections at the centre of the developments and operations of French overseas companies. The focus on directors’ decisions and networks challenges the conception of French overseas companies as highly centralized and controlled by the state. 
Through the cases of companies operating in Pondicherry (Coromandel Coast) and Ouidah (Bight of Benin), Elisabeth Heijmans demonstrates the participation of actors not only in Paris but also in provinces, ports and trading posts in the French expansion. The analysis brings to the fore connections across imperial, cultural and religious boundaries in order to diverge from traditional national narratives of the French early modern empire.


Elisabeth Heijmans, Ph.D. (2018), Leiden University, is post-doctoral researcher in Economic and Social History. She published ‘Investing in French Overseas Companies: A Bad Deal? The Liquidation Processes of Companies Operating on the West Coast of Africa and in India (1664–1719)’ in: Itinerario (43:1).


General Series Editor’s Preface
List of Abbreviations
List of Maps, Tables, Figures and Graphs
I - When Principals Become Agents
 1. Structure and Continuity
 2. Metropolitan Directors
 3. Upward Social Mobility and the Chamber of Justice
 4. Safe Investment? Institutional Factors
 5. Market Access
II - Overseas Directors as Mediators
 1. Overseas and Company Contexts
 2. Trading Systems and Commercial Actors in Pondicherry and Ouidah
 3. Multiplicity of Interests within Companies
III - Cross-cultural Relations with Rulers
 1. Sovereign Powers
 2. Negotiating Cross-cultural Relations
 3. Competition and Foreign Intermediaries
IV - Inter-imperial Cooperation
 1. European Power Dynamics
 2. Means of Cooperation
 3. Motives of Cooperation
 4. Nuances of Competitive Interactions
V - Attempts at Self-sustainability
 1. Accessing Funds
 2. Integrating Regional Trading Networks

More information here.

JOURNAL: Special Issue "Le concept de civilisation en droit colonial belge" (Revue interdisciplinaire d'études juridiques LXXXIII (2019), no. 2

(image source: CAIRN)

De l’épistémologie de la théorie du droit (Pierre Moor)
We cannot approach legal theory without first answering two questions : First, what do we mean by « law ». And second, what, in light of this understanding, are the appropriate theoretical instruments for its analysis ? As regards the first question, the legal phenomenon should be understood as it operates in reality : that is to say, as a system constituted by a set of texts, the most important being normative, which are produced by a set of actors – those being lawyers and people who work with them. It is the functioning of this complex system that legal theory must explain. The answer to the second question - the appropriate theoretical instruments-derives from this analysis. The instruments will be drawn, on the one hand, from semiology, insofar as the law is unthinkable without considering its textual and therefore linguistic dimension : defining the semiotic status of the signs that form the normative texts is therefore necessary to understand the relationship between the norms and their object. On the other hand, the contemporary theory of systems allows us to grasp the texture of internal relations between the legal actors, a differentiated texture that gives law its autoreferential character, while also bringing to light the modalities of its relation with its social environment. In sum, the point of view could be said to be external, since it does not use legal concepts, but, to the contrary, treats such concepts as the object of analysis ; and legal theory, not being a legal discipline, is an element of the sociology of law.
 Introduction. Nations civilisées, mission civilisatrice, droit de civilisation (Pierre-Olivier de Broux)
First paragraph:
Le concept de civilisation est au cœur du présent dossier, consacré au concept de civilisation en droit colonial belge. Ce concept est à la fois particulièrement ancien mais aussi très déprécié aujourd’hui, précisément à cause des usages qui en ont été faits aux XIXe et XXe siècles. Sa présence dans le droit colonial belge ne doit rien au hasard : la mission civilisatrice dont s’est prévalu Léopold II s’inscrit dans un contexte historique et juridique qui balise pour une bonne part la référence au concept de civilisation. C’est ce contexte – surtout issu de la sphère internationale – qui est brièvement brossé dans la présente introduction, synthétisant la littérature critique abondante récemment parue à ce sujet.
 « Le Congo était fondé dans l’intérêt de la civilisation et de la Belgique ». La notion de civilisation dans la Charte coloniale (Pierre-Olivier de Broux & Bérengère Piret)
Belgium’s “civilizing mission” in its African colonial territories is at the heart of colonial rhetoric. The leitmotif of overseas action since the foundation of the Congo Free State in 1885 and a prelude to most European colonization efforts in Africa in the 19th century. The Belgian colonial vocabulary did not hesitate to use it. However, its legal and administrative translation still seems to be poorly studied. The main ambition of this contribution is therefore to question this “civilizing mission” on the basis of the colonial charter. More precisely, this article aims to identify the meaning of the notion of civilization as used by the colonial authorities when the Congo was taken over by Belgium and to identify the legal instruments by which the “civilizing mission” must be implemented there.
 Civiliser les « indigènes » par le droit. Antoine Sohier et les revues juridiques coloniales (1925-1960) (Romain Landmeters & Nathalie Tousignant)
The idea of civilizing the population of Congo is concomitant with the Belgian colonial enterprise from the very beginning. This conception has been inherent in the imperial imagination since the end of the 19th century. With the takeover of Congo by Belgium in 1908, the civilization effort of the Congo Free State (CFS) became the common denominator of the Belgian government, of the world of industry and commerce as well as missionaries. At the crossroads of these three pillars of Belgian-style colonialism, the colonial judiciary also contributes to the civilizing mission. Through the analysis of textual data of three colonial legal journals, this contribution explores the uses of the terms civilize/civilization/civilized by contributors, including the main one, magistrate Antoine Sohier. This analysis highlights the construction of a consensus around a single Civilization, an objective to be achieved by the Congolese populations adhering to the values promoted by the civilizing mission/action claimed by the Belgian colonial project.
 La notion de civilisation en droit colonial belge postérieur à la Seconde Guerre mondiale et en droit congolais postérieur à l’indépendance (Wenceslas Busane Ruhana Mirindi)
Belgian colonial law has organised institutions and forged rules for the implementation of the civilizing mission, the main objective of the colonial enterprise. This contribution focuses on the evolution of the notion of civilization in the post-World War II period, during which the end of colonization took place. During this period, colonial law was characterised by a conception of civilization that was clearly European-centred and inherited from the 19th century. Nevertheless, there is a decrease in the intensity of the affirmation of the civilizing mission. Congolese post-independence law, on the other hand, shows the quest for an authentic civilization. It reflects a tension between the instrumentalization of autocratic power and the opening towards the values of universal civilization.
Lancement du nouveau thème du SIEJ (Jérémie Van Meerbeeck)

L’homme augmenté : quelle dignité humaine pour encadrer les progrès de la génétique ? (Jean-Aymeric Marot)
The notion of « human dignity » is ambivalent, susceptible to be brought up both to uphold the highest principles of protection of our species as a whole or to support the growing affirmation of the power of individuals’ self-determination over their own bodies. Today, at a time when the mysteries of the human genome are slowly unveiled, the use of human enhancement technologies comes in the wake of this autonomist trend but raises new fears as to the preservation of genetic heritage, the determination of the best interests of the child or the right to privacy. In these respects, involvement of public authorities will be required to ensure the safeguarding of the most fundamental values on which our society is built.
Book reviews:

  • J. Gaakeer, Judging from experience. Law, praxis, humanities, Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press, 2019, 307 p. (François Ost)
  • A. Somek, The Legal Relation : Legal Theory after Legal Positivism, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2017, 220 p. (Aristel Skrbic)
  • Th. Berns et J. Lafosse (dir.), Guerre juste et droit des gens moderne, Bruxelles, Éditions de l’Université de Bruxelles, 2017, 208 p. (Louis Triaille)
  • F. Ost, Si le droit m’était conté…, Paris, Dalloz, 2019, 214 p. (Xavier Dijon)
  • A. Flückiger, (Re)faire la loi. Traité de légistique à l’ère du droit souple, Berne, Stämpfli, 2019, 761 p. (Norman Vander Putten)
Read more on Cairn.

CHAPTER: Jan DUMOLYN & Jo VAN STEENBERGEN, 'Studying Rulers and States across Fifteenth-Century Western Eurasia', in: Jo VAN STEENBERGEN (ed.), Trajectories of State Formation across Fifteenth-Century Islamic West-Asia. Eurasian Parallels, Connections and Divergences [Rules & Elites, vol. 18] (Leiden/Boston: Martinus Nijhoff/Brill, 2020), pp. 88-155, ISBN 978-90-04-43131-7, OPEN ACCESS

(image source: Brill)

First paragraph:
In this second chapter we seek to embed the preceding chapter as well as the other contributions to this volume within various interpretative traditions of state formation studies in order to determine a heuristic ground for better understanding the parallels, connections and divergences of fifteenth-century ‘statist’ appearances in the historiography of Islamic West-Asia, and of Western Eurasia more generally.1 The main questions at stake are as follows: how have researchers operationalized concepts of ‘the state’, of its formation and of its transformation within the various historiographical traditions; what conscious or unconscious presuppositions and assumptions have driven this operationalization; and how has social theory been applied in this process in various ways. This discussion of some of the major conceptual debates on ‘the state’ in the study of fifteenth-century Western Eurasia will be pursued in a pragmatic way. It will be oriented towards identifying and explaining some of the most widely or most explicitly used models of state formation within different research traditions. The rationale here complements that of the first, empirical chapter in aiming to make fifteenth-century Islamic West-Asia’s political history more accessible and intelligible to wider audiences while also inviting specialists of these different traditions to rethink what they know about their subjects within wider or unexplored frameworks.
Read the whole chapter (and edited volume) for free here.

NEWS: Princeton University Press Summer Sale (June 24-28)

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Looking for an excuse to grow your summer reading stack? Want to get a jump start on holiday gifts? Simply unable to ignore a good deal? We’re excited to kick off Princeton University Press’s first ever summer sale! From June 24 – June 28 all print books, including co-published and distributed titles, are 50 percent off when purchased through our website, with free worldwide shipping. Just use the code PUP50 at checkout. The offer is valid on books published before July 1, 2020 and, unfortunately, we cannot offer returns on books published during the sale. Customers are responsible for any local fees and tariffs.

More info can be found on the website of PUP

BOOK: Dialogues autour du nihilisme juridique, sous la direction de Paolo Alvazzi del Frate, Giordano Ferri, Fatiha Cherfouh-Baïch et Nader Hakim, 2020, ISBN: 9788894415421, pp. 186

(Source: Historia et ius)


The Series of Studies in medieval and modern legal history Historia et Ius, published in electronic form in open access, was created on the initiative of the same editorial board of the homonymous history journal of the medieval and modern age. It aims to constitute an instrument of diffusion, on an international basis, of the results of historical legal research and of the comparison of ideas and methodological approaches. Each volume, as well as the articles published in the journal, is subject to double blind peer-review. The book series receives texts in Italian, English, French, Spanish and German languages.


Ce volume présente les actes de trois colloques : Le nihilisme juridique. Autour de l’ouvrage de Natalino Irti à l’Université de Bordeaux, le 18 décembre 2017 ; « Chacun choisit son droit ». Nihilisme juridique et guerre des valeurs à l’Institut d’Histoire du Droit (EA 2515) de l’Université Paris Descartes, le 23 mars 2018 ; Dialogo sul nichilismo giuridico all’Università, Roma Tre, le 15 novembre 2018. Les colloques ont aussi été l’occasion de présenter et de discuter la traduction française de 2017 du volume de Natalino Irti Nichilismo giuridico, sous la direction de Nader Hakim, Paris, Dalloz (Rivages du droit). Dans sa contribution sur le nihilisme juridique, Natalino Irti nous présente les résultats convergents d’une longue tradition de recherches et d’enseignement. Elle se caractérise par une grande profondeur intellectuelle et par une sensibilité aiguë aux problèmes de la société moderne, notamment concernant la formation du juriste et la nature du droit dans sa nouvelle dimension technique et économique. 
L’expression « nihilisme juridique », proposée par Irti dans le panorama de la science juridique contemporaine à la fin des années 1990, se fonde sur une dimension extra-étatique du droit. Le droit de l’État, dans son acception traditionnelle, a du mal à poursuivre les phénomènes de la technique et de l’économie, qui ne connaissent pas de limites et ont une dimension planétaire. Irti affirme que « tandis que la puissance politico-juridique [...] agit dans le langage de la territorialité, la techno-économie étend sur le globe son propre espace » et, ainsi, « le droit se retrouve étonné et égaré ». L’artificialité devient, pour Irti, le caractère qui détermine la norme juridique. L’artificialité, en effet, en se libérant de manière graduelle des liens territoriaux et des traditions historiques, est le trait propre de la modernité juridique qui voit le droit prêt à accueillir n’importe quel contenu. C’est pourquoi, selon l’auteur, « les normes sont artificielles, ne tenant pas compte des contenus, capables de déterminer leur temps et leur espace. À ces normes, on applique le simple formalisme de la production : tout est procédure ». 
Natalino Irti, juriste, avocat, philosophe et homme politique, est une figure de tout premier plan de la culture italienne. Son importance en tant qu’intellectuel a franchi les limites de la culture juridique car il a affronté des thèmes théoriques, philosophiques et politiques de grande envergure. C’est ainsi un observateur lucide de l’évolution du droit, mais également de la société italienne. Il exerce une influence certaine grâce à ses interventions fréquentes et à ses articles dans la presse quotidienne. Quoiqu’on ne puisse certainement pas définir Natalino Irti comme un « intellectuel engagé » classique, ses interventions, toujours élégantes et respectueuses, caractérisées par un certain détachement et dépourvues de vis polemica, ont joué un rôle considérable dans le débat politique, en particulier dans la culture d’inspiration libérale et laïque. Ses études de droit privé, abordées avec une sensibilité historique et philosophique particulière, ont toujours mis en lumière des thèmes à caractère général comme la nature et les fondements du droit. Ces interrogations ont, à l’époque, mis en évidence les tendances de fond de l’évolution plus récente du droit et ont souvent animé d’intenses débats dans la doctrine juridique italienne.


Préface de Paolo Alvazzi del Frate et Giordano Ferri p. 1
Natalino Irti, Nihilisme juridique p. 3
Le nihilisme juridique
Autour de l’ouvrage de Natalino Irti
Giordano Ferri, De la décodification au nihilisme juridique p. 13
Riccardo Guastini, Naturalisme, nihilisme, positivisme p. 37
Xavier Prévost, Droit et économie. Brève comparaison des philosophies
de Natalino Irti et de Benoît Frydman p. 49
Giuseppe Zaccaria, Autour de l’œuvre et sur le nihilisme de Natalino Irti :
quelques remarques p. 65
« Chacun choisit son droit »
Nihilisme juridique et guerre des valeurs
Fatiha Cherfouh-Baïch, Nihilisme et guerre des valeurs p. 81
Carlos M. Herrera, Nihilisme juridique et démocratie.
A propos d’un livre de Natalino Irti p. 91
Frédéric F. Martin, Nihilisme et modernité juridiques.
Droit, valeurs et oubli des formes chez Natalino Irti p. 99
Nader Hakim, « Chacun choisit son propre droit » :
le droit sur le fil du rasoir postmoderne p. 123
Paolo Alvazzi del Frate, Nihilisme juridique et responsabilité.
Considérations autour d’un malentendu p. 135
«Dialogo sul nichilismo giuridico»
Massimo Vogliotti, Fragilità della Costituzione e nichilismo giuridico p. 143

The volume is available online on the Historia et ius website.