Judith Kelleher Schafer (1942-2014)

SchaferLegal history and the study of the history of slavery have suffered a significant loss with the death on 16 December of Judith Kelleher Schafer at, by modern standards, a relatively early age. A graduate of Sophie Newcomb College and Tulane University, Professor Schafer was a prolific, thorough, and imaginative scholar, with a keen eye for the telling detail and a fine way with words.

Her first book was Slavery, the Civil Law, and the Supreme Court of Louisiana (LSU 1994). A major achievement, this was based on detailed archival research through the records of the court. It was widely and well reviewed, though some reviewers noted a tension between  a theme of “Americanisation” of the law and one of “uniqueness” of the law of Louisiana – a theme that tends to run through Louisiana legal history more generally. Her next monograph was Becoming Free, Remaining Free: Manumission and Enslavement in new Orleans, 1846-1862 (LSU, 2003). Again based on detailed archival research, this time in the newspapers and court records of New Orleans, the author stressed that this was not a social history of slaves, freedmen and freedwomen, and slave owners, but a study of how these groups used the legal system. The era was that of intensification of slavery in parts of the U.S.A. in the lead up to the Civil War, as the white population started to become more anxious about the survival slavery and its survival; correspondingly it chronicles the attempts of free black to maintain their status. It is a complex topic. Finally, like many who have carried out detailed archival research, Professor Schafer came across other fascinating material. This resulted in a third monograph: Brothels Depravity, and Abandoned Women: Illegal Sex in Antebellum New Orleans (LSU, 2009). This explored the brutal lives of women who prostituted themselves in New Orleans, their violence, the violence against them, and how it all fitted in to property ownership and the needs for landlords to make money from tenancies. It is a fascinating book, telling a complex story, filled with illuminating and vivid stories.

I did not know Professor Schafer well; but I met her a number of times socially, and remember her as an elegant, friendly and amusing woman, whose kind politeness was genuine and not simply the product of good manners. I remember her talking about her determination to go home after Katrina, even to a house in a poor state. Anyone who acknowledges in her books the support derived from drinking companions surely deserves a vote! She will be missed by her family and friends as well as by historians of slavery and of Louisiana.

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1715: Jacobitism and the Survival of Great Britain

An exhibition on the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715 has just opened in the National Library of Scotland. Drawing on popular culture, it has been named “Game of Crowns”, setting it as an opposition between the Houses of Orange, Hanover and Stewart. It consists of a wealth of material, including loans by Her Majesty the Queen from the Royal Archives, and by the National Museums of Scotland, National Records of Scotland, and Scottish National Portrait Gallery.
It is a difficult story to tell using archival material without overwhelming it with explanation. It has been judged well. There is, however, rather a lot to take in. Likewise it has little that is visually attractive: there was only one original portrait, a miniature of the Old Pretender, strangely described as James VIII – a claim he never made good. (The description of him as such is also used on the Library’s excellent website – one assumes  no lèse-majesté intended against the present monarch!) On the other hand, your blogger rather likes looking at yellowed, original documents. Perhaps more could have been done to bring out the intellectual debates; but perhaps that reflects the nature of the archival material drawn on. But to “sex it up”, there is much emphasis placed on an order relating to the Glencoe Massacre, while to attract the young, it is possible to decipher coded letters, and play a ‘Top Trumps’ card game.

Of course, the Rebellion failed. The exiled Stewarts were then expelled from France, ultimately residing in Rome. The governing classes of the British Isles maintained their state that balanced the power of the Crown with the authority of the aristocracy and the elected representatives of those who counted politically. One does not need to subscribe to a Whig view of history to see the significance of that and its importance in the political and economic development of Britain through the eighteenth century: a setting that allowed Enlightenment to flourish in Scotland.



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Studies in Global Slavery

Readers of this Blog are aware of its interest in slavery. The topic is both contemporary and very much in the news, as the tragedy of people trafficking is promoted by so much of the political and social disruption caused by all the violent and other change in the contemporary world. It is welcome to see that Brill are creating a new monograph series entitled Studies in Global Slavery. It usefully links the current interest in global history with concerns about slavery. Eugene Genovese subtitled his famous book about the U.S. South, Roll, Jordan, Roll, as: The World the Slaves Made. One starts to suspect that much of the world more generally was made by slaves. For details of the new series, see: http://www.brill.com/forthcoming-series-studies-global-slavery

Studies in Global Slavery


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Bicentenary of Waverley

photo200 years ago, Walter Scott, Edinburgh alumnus in arts and law, advocate, and Clerk of Session, published Waverley, and created a sensation. The quotation from Jane Austen is famous: “Walter Scott has no business to write novels, especially good ones … I do not like him, and do not mean to like Waverley if I can help it – but I fear I must.” She was one of the many acute readers who recognized the author behind the original anonymous publication.

While Scott’s critical reputation has varied over the years, Waverley has been consistently recognized as one of his greatest novels. Its structure is followed by many of the later novels – a rather naïve young man goes on a journey, dealing conflicts and troubles, through which he learns and ultimately survives. Of course, this is a structure typical of many novels, not just those of Scott! In this novel, Edward Waverley, a young Englishman, manages to participate on both sides in the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745-46. Though condemned for treason, he receives a pardon, and eventually marries a good Scotswoman.

(Your blogger had always believed that Karl Llewellyn had fought on both sides in the First World War; according to Wikipedia, however, he had fought with the 78th Prussian Infantry, reaching the rank of Sergeant, and being awarded the Iron Cross. Wounded at Ypres, he was not allowed to join the German army proper, and was later NOT allowed to join the US army, as he had fought with the German! So his career was reminiscent of but not identical to that Edward Waverley.)

One of the characters whom Edward meets is Cosmo Comyne Bradwardine, Baron of Bradwardine and Tully-Veolan. He is a familiar type of Scottish figure. He had been educated in law, but had not practised, because of his non-juring Episcopalian sympathies; but he had fought abroad. A romantically minded-man, he has participated in the 1715 Rebellion. Given Scott’s training, legal references abound: courts, judges, law books feudal charters, entails, the law on treason – all are mentioned and sometimes even discussed. Indeed, Scott has been seen as providing a  critique of the law of treason.

Of course, the novel is about the Union of 1707 and its consequences. Scott offers a detailed and nuanced account of politics in eighteenth-century Britain, one that demonstrates his typically wide knowledge and sympathetic understanding of history. The Highland Jacobites are treated sympathetically; but their Romantic allure is also seen to be dangerous; Scott does not flinch at describing the horrors of Culloden and the aftermath of the Rebellion. But it is a novel in which conflicts are resolved, a novel which regrets aspects of the past but which looks forward. It is perhaps, along with the same author’s Redgauntlet, one of the most important novels about the Union of 1707.


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Call for Papers – Southern African Society of Legal History Conference 2015



The Southern African Society of Legal Historians will be presenting a conference from 05 to 09 October 2015.
Theme: “Legislation in the Western legal tradition”. This topic provides scope for reflection on a wide range of subjects in legal-historical discourse.

The conference will take place at Sun City which is close to Johannesburg, Pretoria and the OR Tambo International Airport.

Details here: SASLH_Conference_October_2015%201

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Schola Serviana Iuris Romani

la foto 2 la foto


(Photo on the left – from left to right – Professors Carlos Amunátegui, Jakob Stagl, Pascal Pichonnaz, Patricio Carvajal, Andreas Wacke and Dr. Paul du Plessis. – Photo credit: Patricio Carvajal.)

This week, this blogger had the privilege of taking part in a unique doctoral programme hosted by the Catholic University of Santiago de Chile. The project blurb is the following:

“The Schola Serviana Iuris Romani, Academy of Roman Law from Chile, has organized a doctoral courses program called “High studies on Comparative, Historical & Dogmatic Law”, to be held from November 3rd until 28th, 2014, hosted by the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, Santiago. The financial support for the basic expenses of the program will be provided by the National Commission of Scientifical and Technological Research (CONICYT), through the Project “Anillo” of Associative Research, code SOC 1111, named “Historic-Dogmatic studies of Patrimonial Private Law: a review of the articles from books II & IV of the Chilean Civil Code”, addressed to both Pontifical Catholic University of Chile and Pontifical Catholic University of Valparaíso. This academic event pretends to become the most important one for the development of Legal Science and Roman Law in Chile and Latin America.”

A select group of Roman-law scholars from across the globe were invited to deliver seminars on specific topics to a select group of doctoral and post-doctoral students. This blogger thoroughly enjoyed the lively and engaging discussions during his seminars. As the photos above will attest, it was all work all the time … Professor Carvajal and his team are to be thoroughly congratulated for hosting a world-class event.

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The Universal Short Title Catalogue Database

Professor Andrew Pettegree directs the AHRC-funded project based at St Andrews that makes the Universal Short Title Catalogue (USTC) happen. Researchers on the project have been traveling across Europe to examine books and record them since the 1990s. Originally a project focusing on French printed books, the USTC also came to encompass the Iberian Peninsula and the Low Countries. This book-in-hand cataloguing is combined in the USTC with the national bibliographical projects of the UK, Germany, and Italy. The result is absolutely stunning.

The USTC Database aims to capture all books printed in Europe from the dawn of printing to the end of the sixteenth century. There are plans to extend into the seventeenth century, too.

Explore the USTC

This is good news for legal historians. The USTC will be extremely useful in tracking the publication of law books across boundaries, the development of the ius commune and of humanism, and the development of national legal systems. The collective nature of the USTC makes it much easier to see patterns and trends in context than is possible using national catalogues or even WorldCat.

The USTC Database is also a pleasure to use. the pages are laid out logically and links to related resources are clear. Books in other databases are linked to directly and this makes the USTC the first port of call for preliminary searching.

Users can search for books by almost any way imaginable. Author, title, keyword, translator, editor, short title, printer, place of publication, and year are all options. You can also search by language, format, classification (‘Jurisprudence’ brings up 22,636 choices), and digital copy availability. A search for ‘Justinianus I’ returns 1035 entries ranging in date from 1468 to 1600 and 152 of these are accessible digitally.*

Each entry has an appropriate image for the book being described. For example, at the entry for USTC 509496: Buchanan, George, Rerum Scoticarum historia auctore Georgio Buchanano Scoto (Edinburgh, apud Alexander Arbuthnet, 1582), we find a portrait of Buchanan. Details like this occur throughout the pages – this is obviously a project where attention to detail is paramount.

The only downside, if it can be called that, is that the USTC Database means work for your blogger. When I transcribed the library of Charles Areskine of Alva as part of my PhD submitted in December 2011, I included modern catalogue records for the books listed there along with references to their identification codes in national bibliographical databases. Now that the USTC is here, this catalogue must be regarded as incomplete until the USTC codes can be added to it.

*Figures at date of post.

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Valedictory Lecture: Professor Emeritus Dr Dr (hc) Laurens Winkel

The retirement of a distinguished colleague at the height of his powers could seem a misfortune; but, in fact, it raises hope that, freed from the increasing managerial trivia of modern academic life, more time is left to the colleague for future research and travel. On 10 October 2014, the capitis minutio of our colleague Laurens Winkel to the freer status of Professor Emeritus at the Erasmus University of Rotterdam was marked by a symposium in his honour entitled “The Many Faces of Legal History”, after which there was lunch, to be followed at 16.15 by a Valedictory Lecture entitled “Themis and Clio Revisited”.

Celebrations started the night before with a dinner for the speakers at the Symposium organized by Tammo Wallinga of Rotterdam and Antwerp. As well as the symposiasts of the next day, the guests included your Blogger. It was held at the splendid Hotel New York in Rotterdam, based in the former buildings of the Holland America Line, which could be viewed across the busy river Nieuwe Maas from the hotel on the Willemskade where many of us were staying. We had the excitement of the trip to and from dinner by water taxi.

photo 3DSCN0184DSCN0185DSCN0186DSCN0187Hotel New York

A pleasant evening was had by all.


The next day the Symposium began. It was chaired by Professor W.J. Veraart of the Free University of Amsterdam, one of Laurens’ pupils. The first two speakers were Professor Xavier Prévost, now of the University of Bordeaux, who spoke of the work carried out by Jacques Cujas on the  palingenesia of Roman jurists and its significance. Laurens had been one of the examiner’s of Professor Prévost’s important thesis. Dr Paul du Plessis of this University and Blog, and one of Laurens’ doctoral pupils, then spoke on cursing and suing, a paper based on study of lead curses recently discovered in Bath, putting them into legal context and explaining their significance in a possibly plural legal system – a particularly impressive perfromance. Dr Jacob Giltaij of Helsinki, another of Laurens’ doctoral students, then gave an imaginative and convincing paper about the context of Fritz Schulz’ Principles of Roman Law, teasing out its political significance as an anti-Nazi text. All three provoked discussion and raised probing – if gently put – questions from the honorand. These three outstanding papers set a high standard for the rest.

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The high standard symposium continued after coffee. Dr Emese von Bóné of Rotterdam, the first of the home team, presented an “Amuse”, in which she explored the Roman legal and historical context of Mozart’s “La Clemenza di Tito”. This brought together Laurens’ love of music and Roman law. Javier Rodrigues Diez of Santiago de Chile, currently Laurens’ doctoral student, then discussed the continuingly fascinating topic of objective good faith, rather wonderfully using little Lego figures. The final paper was by Tammo Wallinga, professor at Antwerp and teacher in Rotterdam, discussing the importance of the editing of texts as the foundation of legal scholarship, using the appropriate title “Ad Fontes”. Laurens again had a friendly and gracious word for each.

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The symposium then moved to a presentation, with Professor Veraart again taking the floor. In an amusing and affectionate speech, he introduced a Festchrift prepared in Laurens’ honour, a special issue of Ars Aequi, entitled, Recht & Chaos. It contained a number of photographs of Laurens’ office; if they were meant to illustrate chaos, they did not seem to do so to this Blogger, whose office is even more apparently disorganized. But Professor Veraart spoke graciously and Larens responded in like vein. Laurens then presented gifts of pens to those who had spoken.

DSCN0214DSCN0217DSCN0215DSCN0216 Lunch followed. After which your blogger and some friends went and sought out some of the beer specially brewed for autumn.

DSCN0218 DSCN0220 DSCN0221 Lunch and beer (for a true symposium)

At four o’clock the formal ceremony began. Professors robed and then formed into a procession led by the bedellus with the mace led by Laurens and the Dean into the aula magna of the University. Such is the affection and esteem in which Laurens is held, this was the largest such procession your Blogger has ever seen. The Dean introduced him, and then Laurens spoke eruditely and amusingly on his theme of the importance of legal history. The Dean then gave an account of Laurens’ career, and others also spoke in his praise. He was also presented by his colleagues with a volume entitled  (in Dutch), Useful, but Important: Sayings in Law for Laurens Winkel.

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A reception followed for the huge crowd.

In the evening Laurens hosted a dinner at the Royal Maas Yacht Club, splendidly situated on the Nieuwe Maas in central Rotterdam. Again this was an elegant event with affectionate speeches, including one by Laurens’ own Doktorvater, Professor Emeritus Hans Ankum, and also one by his partner, Peter. He was presented with a whimsical portrait of himself floating over Rotterdam in his Edinburgh doctoral robes.




In all, a dear friend was suitably honoured and suitably honoured his guests.

Laurens had declared that he did not want a Festschrift. Not only did that modest remark remind individuals that he deserved one, it was also very wisely ignored. We have seen he was presented with a special issue of Ars Aequi. Early in September, he had been presented with another Festschrift in Naples at the international Roman Law conference, the Société Internationale pour l’Histoire des Droits de l’Antiquité. Such is Laurens’ reputation, and the love people bear him, there were over 90 contributors and it reached two volumes. Entitled Meditationes de iure et historia: Essays in honour of Laurens Winkel it was edited by Rena van Bergh et al. Finally there was the presentation of the volume at his lecture. A true measure of a professor is the esteem and affection of his colleagues and the love of his pupils. Laurens is eminently blessed with both.


Posted in Legal History, News and Events, Roman Law | 2 Comments

Blackstone in Esperanto

This blogger’s interest in the great English jurist, William Blackstone, is probably obvious. But he has recently been informed by his friend Georgia Chadwick of the Louisiana State Library that an American lawyer, called W.E. Baff, who was a keen supporter of Esperanto, at one stage proposed translating Blackstone’s Commentaries into Esperanto. He was a member of the International Society of Esperanto Jurists and its US Vice-President; on this side of the Pond, it is interesting to note that its Scottish Vice-President was William Page of Edinburgh, a Solicitor to the Supreme Court in Edinburgh, and a very active Esperantist. No English Vice-President is listed in 1911.
The gift of the William Auld Collection to the National Library of Scotland means that Edinburgh has one of the most significant Esperanto collections. See http://www.nls.uk/collections/rare-books/collections/esperanto (the first verse of Burns’ “Address to the Haggis” rendered into Esperanto is worth reading).
Baff had a colourful life. More may emerge. So watch this space!

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Colloquium in Honour of Professor Laurens Winkel

Readers of this Blog will be interested to know that on 10 October, 2014, the retiral of Professor Winkel from the chair of legal history at the Erasmus University of Rotterdam will be marked by a colloquium in his honour, starting at 9.30 a.m., entitled “The Many Faces of Legal History”. The speakers will be: Xavier Prévost (Bordeaux); Paul J. du Plessis (Edinburgh); Jacob Giltaij (Helsinki); Emese von Boné (Rotterdam); Javier E. Rodriguez Diez (Rotterdam); Tammo Walinga (Antwerp/Rotterdam). Professor Wouter Veraart of the free University of Amsterdam will preside. At four o’clock in the afternoon, in the aula magna of the University, Professor Winkel will deliver a Valedictory Lecture entitled “Clio and Themis Revisited”. See http://www.esl.eur.nl/arw/colloquium_en_afscheidsrede_laurens_winkel/

Professor Winkel is a graduate of Edinburgh, holding the degree of LL.D. honoris causa.


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