30 November 2021

JOURNAL: Comparative Legal History IX (2021), nr. 2


(image source: Routledge)

Editorial (Agustín Parise & Matthew Dyson)

Global legal biography (Philip Bajon, Victoria Barnes & Emily Whewell) (127-153)
DOI 10.1080/2049677X.2021.2001967-  OPEN ACCESS

This article aims to contribute to the growing body of scholarship on legal biography. In Britain and the United States, a long standing tradition is to focus on the lives of judges. Existing studies focus on a subject’s early life and background, showing that this experience had an impact on legal ideas and law-making. Yet, there is now a recent resurgence in interest in legal biography that focusses on legal figures elsewhere in the world. The scholarship on figures in supranational entities, such as the British Empire and the European Union, breaks away from the national view of law and adopts a transnational and comparative focus. Scholars grapple with concepts and approaches of following lawyers who go beyond borders and transcend regions. By critically examining the legal biographies of actors in the former British Empire and the European Union, this article considers the value of a global perspective involving an inter-regional lens and the methodological barriers that remain.

The law of waste and the law of dilapidations: A comparative history (Richard Helmholz) (154-176)
DOI 10.1080/2049677X.2021.1997375


This article compares the origins and later development of two related remedies – one from the canon law, the other from the English common law. Neither has attracted the sustained attention of legal historians, but both played a part in the growth of English law. Although the evidence is insufficient to show that the relationship between the two was that of a ‘legal transplant’, it does produce both significant parallels and differences between them. The comparison also opens a window on the attitudes and habits characteristic of the lawyers on both sides of the divide between the two legal systems.

The defence of Venetian dominion over the Adriatic Sea: Situating Paolo Sarpi c 1600–1625 (Stefano Cattelan) (177-207)
DOI 10.1080/2049677X.2021.2001968

During the Middle Ages, the Republic of Venice gradually gained control over the Adriatic Sea. Leading medieval jurists argued in favour of Venetian maritime jurisdiction based on Roman law principles and geopolitical realities. However, starting from the end of the fifteenth century, new developments, such as oceangoing navigation, challenged the foundations of the Serenissima’s wealth and power. The 1610s represented a particularly critical conjuncture for Venice, whose dominion over the Adriatic Sea was disputed by powerful actors. In 1609, Hugo Grotius published the famous pamphlet Mare liberum, which advocated the freedom of the sea towards the Indies based on natural law principles and had the potential to endanger Venetian dominance over the Adriatic Sea as well. In this context, Paolo Sarpi, consultant of the Venetian government, elaborated a legal-political defence of Venetian dominion over the Adriatic. His ideas should be read as a reaction but not a direct reply to Mare liberum.

An enlightened shadow? Elements of the intellectual climate at the time of the codification of the Criminal Law of Malta (Mark A. Sammut Sassi) (208-235)
DOI 10.1080/2049677X.2021.1997377

The Criminal Law of Malta was codified in 1854 under British rule. Prior to that, Maltese criminal law was subject to regulation by the Municipal Code of 1784, promulgated by the government of the Knights of St John. In both instances, the Maltese themselves were active in the creation of the legal text, and in both cases, they explicitly referred to the Maltese nation and to law and its notional relationship with the nation and that relationship’s ramifications. The question therefore arises whether codification nationalised criminal law in Malta, where a Frenchified élite that spoke Italian belonged to the ius commune tradition, was alive to the Enlightenment, and sought to resist a complete take-over under the occupation of a ruler whose common-law system mistrusted codificatio

Book reviews

  • The laws of Hammurabi. At the confluence of royal and scribal traditions by Pamela Barmash, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2020, 336 pp., £64 (hbk), ISBN 978-0197525401 (Luca Silquini-Cinelli)
    DOI 10.1080/2049677X.2021.1997378
  • Government use of print. Official publications in the Holy Roman Empire, 1500–1600 by Saskia Limbach, Frankfurt am Main, Vittorio Klostermann, 2021, XVIII + 347 pp., €79 (pbk), ISBN 978-3465044253 (Alain Wijffels)
    DOI 10.1080/2049677X.2021.1997379
  • Knowledge of the pragmatici: legal and moral theological literature and the formation of early modern Ibero-America edited by Thomas Duve and Otto Danwerth, Leiden, Brill, 2020, xiii + 382 pp, €94 (hbk), ISBN 978-9004421622 (Heikki Pihlajamäki)
    DOI 10.1080/2049677X.2021.1997380
  • Cultures of law in urban Northern Europe: Scotland and its neighbours c. 1350–1650 edited by Jackson W Armstrong and Edda Frankot, London and New York, Routledge, 2021, 304 pp, £27,99 (ebook), ISBN 978-0429262869 (Jasmin Hepburn)
    DOI 10.1080/2049677X.2021.1997381
  • Suicide, law, and community in early modern Sweden by Riikka Miettinen, Cham, Palgrave Macmillan, 2019, 346 pp, €71,68 (hbk), ISBN 978-3030118440 (Sara M Butler)
    DOI 10.1080/2049677X.2021.1997382
  • Socialism and legal history. The histories and historians of law in socialist East Central Europe edited by Ville Erkkilä and Hans-Peter Haferkamp, London, Routledge, 2020, 199 pp, £96 (hbk), ISBN 978-0367414757 (Dovilė Sagatienė)
    DOI 10.1080/2049677X.2021.2001969
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