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European History of Law

Updated: Feb 9

Arila from Vision Factory

Author: Arila Baja

Date of Publication: 28/04/2023

Terminology of Law

The term Law can lead to some misunderstandings, mainly in the European education system and more generally in European culture. This is because the law is given very little attention there. The culture of the modern day may make the law seem inextricably related to power, especially to those who reside in Europe. This has especially to do with supreme political power. Therefore, the law is perceived as an order, as written law, as an authoritative voice. Actually, that emanates from sovereignty.

Terminology of Law

But law also refers to how society arranges itself in accordance with particular historical ideals and upholds them in day-to-day life. Law is not just about power and order.

Sources of law

When we talk about sources of law, we mean the origins of law. The nature of these sources is different, though. That’s why we should take into account that Ius commune was the legal system up until the French Revolution. In particular, this system comprehended different types of sources of law.

Legislation (Legislative law) is the law originated by a legislation or a compilation of law

ordered by a sovereign.

Doctrina (Legal science) is the legal literature, the opinion of academic commentators about different legal themes.

Jurisprudential (Case law) is the judge-made law, that is the body of decisions and sentences pronounced by judges at courts.

• The History of law (or Legal history) is the study of how law has evolved and why it has

changed. The subject is closely connected to the development of civilization. So, the evolution of law helps to understand the origins of various legal concepts.

The three periods of the History of law

The three periods of the History of law

1. Roman–Germanic age.

2. Medieval legal schools and common law age.

3. Reforms and codifications age.

Terminology of Europe.

In the Middle Ages the term Europe was used almost exclusively geographically. Only with the Humanism of Enea Silvio Piccolomini and Erasmus of Rotterdam did it begin to represent a cluster of spiritual and cultural values. Specifically, Machiavelli was the first to describe Europe as a land of freedom. This image of Europe was revived and developed in a very distinctive manner in the eighteenth century. So, in this century Europe became aware of its political and cultural dimensions.

Roman law

Roman law

The history of law begins during the Roman age, particularly the 6th century AD. At this time the Byzantine Emperor Justinian ordered his minister Tribonianus to create a corpus (body) of laws. With these laws, they could regulate the relationships between citizens of the Empire. In fact, during many centuries of the Roman Empire the law was created by emperors and jurists. However, Roman Law is codified and ordered in a body of civil law. This is the first example of an organized collection of laws, ordered in articles and divided into titles. Justinian aimed to restore the golden age of Roman law. He ordered the best rules and legal science from the Roman past.


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