Research topic: Legal history

In history studies, “legal history” covers a broad spectrum of topics: not just the juridical history of laws and the principles underlying them, but the entire justice apparatus and its role in society across the board.

Common for this research is the use of sources which have their origin in legal practice: laws, judgements, records, contracts, records of income from fines and penal expenses, and so on.

Law, judgements, and punishment are fundamental entities in organized societies, and we have legal sources from all historical periods. In the study of the oldest periods, such sources will typically be the most extensive preserved written material, and sometimes they will also be the only one. The sources can tell us not only a great deal about forms of government and ideology, and the legitimacy of the rulers, but also about the thoughts and ideas of the ordinary people on scarcity, conflict, rebellion, and settlement. In addition they provide insight into the organization of everyday life: settlement of inheritance and transfer of property, trade, rights, responsibility and authority. Legal history in such a wide sense is therefore less about studying a limited sector of society but rather about using particular types of sources to study social development, power, and individual fates.

Did you find what you were looking for?
Published Feb. 6, 2013 1:58 PM - Last modified Mar. 5, 2013 9:50 AM