British Legal History Conference

From our colleagues at UCL:

Booking for the 2017 British Legal History Conference is now open. The theme of the conference is ‘Networks and Connections’.

The conference is to be held at UCL from the 5-8 July. Full details of the conference and the draft programme can be found at the conference webpage: The conference dinner will be held in the Jeremy Bentham Room at UCL on Friday 7 July.

There is a booking link at the bottom of the conference webpage. Please note that places at the conference dinner are limited and available on a first come, first served basis, so early booking is advised.

When booking, please ignore the ‘Selden Society Lecture/Reception’ option. This year the BLHC will incorporate the annual Selden Society lecture as the first plenary lecture of the conference. This lecture and the following reception are covered within the standard conference registration fee and there is no need to register for the Selden Society Lecture/Reception separately if you register for the conference.

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Alan Rodger Postgraduate Visiting Researcher, University of Glasgow

This blog is delighted to note that the University of Glasgow School of Law invites applications from PhD students in Roman law/legal history for the post of Alan Rodger Postgraduate Visiting Researcher, to be held during the 2017/18 academic year. The selected candidate will spend a term in Glasgow and receive a £2,000 award for support. The deadline for applications is 10 February 2017. Full details are available from its website:

As Lord Rodger of Earlsferry Alan had a distinguished career in the Supreme Court, after having  held the offices of Lord President of the Court of Session and Lord Justice General of Scotland. he had had a distinguished career at the bar and had served as Lord Advocate. A Glasgow graduate, Alan had studied for his doctorate under David Daube in Oxford. While a young advocate, he tutored in Civil (Roman) Law in this University.

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PhD Funding English Legal History – Milsom Studentship

This Blog is delighted to post the following notice, and delighted to note the scholarship is aimed after Toby Milsom, an innovative and interesting scholar.

Selden Society: Milsom Studentship in English Legal History 2017

The Selden Society, founded in 1887 by F.W. Maitland and others to encourage the study and advance the knowledge of the history of English law, offers a Milsom Studentship (named in honour of the late Professor S.F.C. Milsom, sometime Literary Director and President of the Society) for a person commencing research in English legal history leading to the degree of PhD (or equivalent) at a university in the United Kingdom in September/October 2017.

The studentship will be tenable for a maximum of three years, subject to an annual review of progress. The annual value of the studentship will be a sum equivalent to the current total of the home/EU fees and recommended minimum maintenance allowance at the university at which the student is registered for the PhD degree, to a total maximum of £21,500 (account will be taken of funding available from other sources).

Application forms may be obtained from the Secretary of the Society, School of Law, Queen Mary University of London, Mile End Road, London, E1 4NS,

The deadline for receipt of applications and references is 1 March 2017.

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Doctoral Positions in Legal History: Max-Planck Institute, Frankfurt

The Max Planck Institute for European Legal History in Frankfurt is a world leader in researching the history of law in Europe and beyond. Its two research departments with more than 60 scholars, the unrivaled collections of its specialized library and its numerous national and international co-operations make it the central research hub for a global scientific community investigating the past, present and future of legal regimes.

The Institute belongs to the Max Planck Society, Germany’s most successful research organization. Since its establishment in 1948, no fewer than 18 Nobel laureates have emerged from the ranks of its researchers, putting it on a par with the most prestigious research institutions worldwide. The mission of the Max Planck Society is to conduct fundamental (i.e., non-applied) research in the natural sciences, life sciences, social sciences and the humanities at the highest possible level. Its 83 Institutes are scattered across Germany and beyond, and they focus on research fields that are particularly innovative and require unusually extensive resources.

The Institute is now looking to recruit up to two Doctoral Students from 1 July 2017 or as soon as possible thereafter for the following research fields in the Department I of Professor Stefan Vogenauer: (1) Legal Transfer in the Common Law World; (2) Legal History of the European Union.

See further:

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Workshop Announcement (Princeton) – The Family in the Premodern World

Call for Papers \ Family in the Premodern World: A Comparative Approach

A Workshop at Princeton University, April 7-8, 2017

Organized by Lee Mordechai and Sara McDougall

“The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society…”

The United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 16.3

The family is perhaps the most basic, common and important social institution across the world in recorded history. The single word in English, however, is used in a surprising number of ways to describe how to organize an individual and those close to them by birth, marriage or co-residence within a more-or-less coherent group. Indeed families, just as other cultural institutions, have long been defined by cultural norms and practices.

While the modern definition of the family is becoming ever more fluid and ‘new’ types of families appear in greater frequency, even a superficial survey of historical human cultures shows that there is no such thing as a ‘natural’ form of family, and that the concept has been constantly changing throughout history. The family could be an inclusive or exclusive institution within a society, while its size would vary between a handful to a few dozen individuals; the interpersonal ties between family members could withstand enormous social pressures or disintegrate almost immediately. A culture might impinge on the relationships within families or ignore them completely. We believe that a comparative approach would be the best way to emphasize these contrasts and the connection between them and the basic norms that govern a given society.

We invite papers that emphasize the themes of family and society and investigate the historical premodern family (up to the sixteenth century in Europe, but later suggestions for other areas would be welcome). Geographical areas and chronological periods are open and we aim for a wide comparative perspective of the workshop as a whole.

Topics can include, but are not limited to:

· A case study of a specific family or group of families within a society
· Structures of kinship and the forms of ties they create within a kin group
· Strategies of inclusion/exclusion within a family or between families
· A chronological approach to family development in a certain society
· Connections between family values and broader cultural dispositions
· Conflicts within or between families and acceptable ways to resolve them
· Marriage, divorce and family planning as family-construction strategies
· Social values, norms or taboos related to families within a given society
· Alternative or deviant family models

The workshop will take place on April 7-8, 2017 at Princeton University. Travel and accommodation funding is available for presenters from beyond the NJ/NY area. After the workshop, participants will be invited to submit their revised papers for publication in a special journal issue that will showcase the variety of premodern families and serve as a stepping stone for further comparative research on families in such societies in history. Please send abstracts of up to 500 words to before 15 January 2017. For queries, please email Lee Mordechai ( and Sara McDougall (

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Post-doctoral position in Legal History

The research project REDHIS (“Rediscovering the Hidden Structure. A New Appreciation of Juristic Texts and Patterns of Thought in Late Antiquity”) is opening a position for a post-doctoral researcher. The appointment will be for two years. There will be a possibility for renewal for a third year.

REDHIS is an interdisciplinary research project hosted by the Università di Pavia (Italy) and funded by an ERC-advanced grant (Principal Investigator: Prof. Dario Mantovani; Senior Staff: Prof. Luigi Pellecchi). The project studies the continued existence of a high-level legal culture in Late Antiquity, as shown among other things by the copying and continued use of the writings of the classical jurists. A comprehensive understanding of legal culture includes therefore the study of the transmission of these texts and the reception of their contents. To learn more about the REDHIS Project, visit our website at
Research project REDHIS: Rediscovering the hidden …
The aim of Redhis is a new appreciation of Roman legal culture in Late Antiquity. The project focuses on the elements which display the persistence of an high-level …

In line with the goals of the project, the appointee will be asked to contribute several well-researched chapters, written in English, to an extensive collaborative volume on the circulation, use, and reception of Roman juristic writings in Late Antiquity. Depending on her/his precise qualifications, the appointee may also be asked to contribute to the project’s annotated corpus of juristic papyri.

In pursuing her/his research, the appointed applicant will be supervised by the Principal Investigator. She/he will collaborate with other staff and post-doctoral researchers in an interdisciplinary working group. Place of work: University of Pavia, Pavia (Italy).

Preference will be given to applicants who hold a PhD awarded by a University from outside Italy, with a doctoral dissertation in one of the following scholarly areas: Classical Philology, Palaeography, Papyrology, Ancient History, Latin, and/or Roman law. The doctoral dissertation has to show that the applicant is competent in and comfortable with applying a philological approach to the study of Roman legal texts, in Latin and Greek, in order to contribute fruitfully to the research objectives of REDHIS. We are looking for someone with experience in writing in (and translating into) English.

The closing date for applications is 9 January 2017 at 12:00 noon (CET). Applicants are advised to make sure that their applications comply with Italian regulations as laid out in the official “bando” of this post (especially art. 4), which can be found in Italian and English at

In case you have any questions or require assistance of any kind with the formalities, please do not hesitate to contact Dr. Matthijs Wibier (

Further informal enquiries may be directed to Prof. Dario Mantovani (

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Plessy v Ferguson

On 7 June 1892, Homer Adolph Plessy boarded a train of the East Louisiana Railway company, He had bought a first-class ticket, and had boarded a “whites-only” carriage. Plessy was an “octoroon”, that is of seven parts “white blood” and one part “black”. This meant that according to Louisiana Law he was black. He was descended form gens libres de couleur. He had accordingly breached an 1890 Louisiana statute requiring that blacks and whites sit in separate railway carriages, for which there had to be “separate but equal” provision. He was arrested at its station on the corner of Royal and Prest in New Orleans. The detective who arrested him had been hired to do so by the Comité des Citoyens, a campaigning body, which wished to challenge the validity of the law. The railway company also wanted to challenge the act because of its economic consequences for them.

So this was a case specially created to challenge the law segregating blacks and whites on trains. The case against the act was famously lost in Louisiana and the Supreme Court of the USA, thereby upholding legalized segregation, by 7 to 1.

Your blogger, currently in New Orleans, has been to see and photograph the historical marker where was once the station where Plessy was removed from the train.


As an “octoroon”, Plessy could “pass” as white. He had been active in social causes for some time. No image of Plessy survives; the original marker form his grave in the St Louis Cemetery no 1 in New Orleans is preserved in the Louisiana State Museum in the Cabildo in New Orleans.



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Postdoctoral researcher in Legal History – Tilburg Law School

The Department of Public Law, Jurisprudence and Legal History at Tilburg Law School is seeking a full-time postdoctoral researcher (30 months) who will be one of the main researchers in the project ‘Analyzing Coherence in Law Through Legal Scholarship’ (CLLS), funded by the European Research Council (ERC Starting Grant 2016). The project will start in January 2017 and will be finished in 2021.

The project will focus on analyzing legal scholarship of the early modern period (c1500 – c1800), concerning the theme of collateral rights (securities) and bankruptcy. The postdoctoral researcher will cooperate with the leader of the project, Dr. Dave De ruysscher, in establishing a methodology for tracing and assessing coherence in writings of legal authors.

Find out more and apply here

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Legal History and Empires: Perspectives from the Colonized – Barbados, 2018

This Blog is delighted to give advance notice and publish the a preliminary announcement of  the conference – “Legal History and Empires: Perspectives from the Colonized”. Jointly sponsored by the Faculty of Law and Faculty of Humanities at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill, Barbados and an international group of legal historians and historians of the law, it will take place on July 11-13, 2018
at the Cave Hill, Barbados Campus, University of the West Indies.
This is a conference for anyone with an active interest in research in the areas of the legal history of empires and colonies.

Further news will also be found here when available, as well as the call for papers
If you wish to register interest or have any queries, please contact:

See also:

Barbados has a rich and complex history; it also retains many fine historical buildings, and Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison are a Unesco World Heritage Centre. The island also retains the house where George Washington lived in 1751 on his only visit outside the mainland North American Colonies.

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New Book: Oxford Handbook of Roman Law and Society

The Oxford Handbook of Roman Law and Society, edited by Paul J. du Plessis, Clifford Ando, and Kaius Tuori, surveys the landscape of contemporary research and charts principal directions of future inquiry. More than a history of doctrine or an account of jurisprudence, the Handbook brings to bear upon Roman legal study the full range of intellectual resources of contemporary legal history, from comparison to popular constitutionalism, from international private law to law and society, thereby setting itself apart from other volumes as a unique contribution to scholarship on its subject.

The Handbook brings the study of Roman law into closer alignment and dialogue with historical, sociological, and anthropological research into law in other periods. It will therefore be of value not only to ancient historians and legal historians already focused on the ancient world, but to historians of all periods interested in law and its complex and multifaceted relationship to society.


The table of contents is available here.

A launch symposium will be held on 6 December 2016 at Queen Mary School of Law. Find out more here.

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