An Historical Introduction to Private Law by R. C. van Caenegem

By R. C. van Caenegem

During this ebook one of many world's most excellent criminal historians makes an attempt to give an explanation for what produced the non-public legislation of the Western global as we all know it this day. Professor van Caenegem can pay specific awareness to the origins of the typical law-civil legislations dichotomy, and the way it arose that England and the continent of Europe, even though sharing a similar civilization and values, reside lower than varied criminal platforms. The chronological assurance extends from the Germanic invasion within the early heart a while to the current day, incorporating research of the medieval Roman and canon legislation (both items of the legislations schools), and that of the varsity of typical legislations that encouraged the nice nationwide codifications of the fashionable age. He evaluates the position of the lawgivers--emperors, kings, and parliaments--and that of the judges, fairly, in fact, within the lands of the English universal legislation. The booklet is predicated on either an intensive secondary literature in different languages, and on proof collected by means of Professor van Caenegem over the last 40 years.

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The scale of capitalist enterprise in the late Middle Ages was still modest, as it was 30 Europe and Roman-Germanic law, c. uoo - c. 1750 31 restricted by the economic power of cities or independent city republics. From early modern times, however, capitalism could mobilize the resources of an entire nation and work on a world scale. This economic expansion is reflected in urbanization: the population of the large cities of the Middle Ages was still of the order of 100,000, yet in early modern times it reached a million.

It goes without saying that one of the great changes which took place in western society from about 1100 was the development of a new type of legal order. None the less the imprint of the great events of the early Middle Ages was not completely erased in the following centuries and can still sometimes be detected. 1* In some countries such as England (where the legacy of Roman civilization was entirely lost) as well as in the regions east of the Rhine which escaped Romanization, canon law was the only Roman element in legal practice.

Yet plans for a rational court system under the control of central authority were far from being accomplished in practice, and sometimes met with tenacious opposition: the enlightened reform which Joseph II tried to introduce into the Austrian Netherlands triggered off revolution there. The eighteenth century marked the end of the old European legal order. Various factors contributed to its disappearance: a refusal to submit to the authorities of Antiquity, notably Roman law; the search for a new legal order based on reason, or on the nature of man and society as conceived and defined by reason; the triumph of the idea of codification; and the will to make the closed and esoteric world of law and justice accessible and democratic.

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