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.


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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 (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

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


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Glasgow Tercentenary Essays

Late in 1713, the masters of the University or College of Glasgow persuaded Queen Anne to allow the funding out of the Bishop’s Rents, which had come into the hands of the Crown, of a chair in law. Given the source of the money, the Crown was later able to assert patronage over the appointment, although the College was allowed to choose the first professor. The choice lighted on William Forbes, who enjoyed the patronage of the Dalrymple family, who entered into his new office in 1714, whose visage enlivens the cover of Glasgow Tercentenary Essays: 300 Years of the School of Law, edited by R.G. Anderson, James Chalmers, and John MacLeod, just published by Avizandum, Edinburgh, 2014.

William ForbesOld Glasgow Building

There is much here in a miscellaneous collection to interest any lawyer. But some will be of considerable interest to readers of this Blog. The essay by James Chalmers, based on his inaugural lecture, contains interesting historical material, as do those by Gillian Black on Exclusive Privilege and Kenneth Campbell on confidentiality. A directly historical account is found in Olivia Robinson’s discussion of use of the civilian literature, and J. Irvine Smith’s entertaining and passionate account of the famous trial of Captain Green, which some readers of this blog may recall being given as a Stair Society Annual Lecture some years ago. Bill McBryde’s wonderful exploration of Muir v. Glasgow Corporation will remind many of some of the studies of the late great Brian Simpson. It indicates just how much understanding and indeed detailed social history can be gained form such study of an individual case. Maks del Mar also investigates modern intellectual history and draws a moral from it for the future of legal theory.

The other essays are less historically oriented: but all are a worthy tribute to three hundred years of legal study in Glasgow.



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How long did it take to travel from Rome to Brundisium?

Ever so often, an idea comes around that has the potential to revolutionise a number of academic disciplines. Walter Scheidel, a colossus in the field of Roman history, has unveiled ‘ORBIS’ – a geospatial network model of the Roman World developed at Stanford University. With this model, it becomes possible to work out the route between two points in the Roman world within a given season as well as the likely cost of moving commodities long that route using different forms of transport. It does not take much to appreciate that this sort of information will reinvigorate the much-discussed debate initiated by Moses Finley concerning the economic significance of road vs. sea transport in the Roman Empire.

In case you are wondering, the answer is 8.9 days if you travelled fast during the month of July.

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A Question of Time: Trix van Erp.

On 12 September, 2014, this blogger had the good fortune to attend the valedictory lecture of Beatrix van Erp-Jacobs to mark her retirement from the Chair of Oud-Vaderlands Recht (Dutch Legal History) at Tilburg University. Professor van Erp is a prolific and leading historian of Dutch law, particularly that of the old Duchy of Brabant, though she has a broad range. It was an excellent event, starting with an academic procession into the aula magna of the University with the Rector Magnificus and professors of legal history from around Europe dressed in their various robes.


Led by the bedellus with the mace, it made a splendid impression. Professor van Erp then delivered a thoughtful oration, entitled “Een kwestie van tijd” ranging over various topics that reflected her career and scholarship. After her lecture, there were a number of affectionate tributes, including one from the Dean, Professor Prins, reviewing Professor van Erp’s career, with illustrations, and a highly amusing one from Professor Randall Lesaffer.

After this, Professor van Erp was presented with the Festschrift in her honour entitled, Ad fontes: liber Amicorum prof. Beatrix van Erp-Jacob, published by Wolf Legal Publishers, Oisterwijk

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After an elegant reception in the University there was a wonderful party with a reception in the garden, followed by an excellent dinner at the at the Bos & Ven Mansion Hotel in Oisterwijk.


During the dinner there was a performance by the Troeba Trio (, whom readers of this blog may recall also performed at the retirement of Olga Tellegen in December 2013. In all an excellent and enjoyable event, worthy of such a distinguished scholar.

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Ancient law in Manchester

Tavola_bronzea_con_lex_imperio_vaspasiani,_69-70 (Picture courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

This blogger was delighted to receive notice of the creation of an Ancient Law Reading Group at Manchester University.

Details may be found here:

I wish them every success for the future!

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Wander the Forum …


(Picture courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Our colleagues at the Humboldt University, Berlin, have alerted us to the launching of a new digital reconstruction of the Roman Forum. Their release states:

“So famous is the Forum Romanum in Rome that it can prove difficult to get
an archaeological handle on the site’s multileveled history and material
forms. The new ‘Digital Forum Romanum’ project sets out to bring the site
back to historical life: exploiting a series of three-dimensional digital
reconstructions, and showcasing the Forum at different historical moments
between 200 B.C. and A.D. 310, the website aims to visualize the site’s
dynamic historical development; by bringing together images, videos and
texts about the Forum’s chronology and building structures, the website
also facilitates different perspectives into its history and research.
(Texts will soon also be available in English and Italian translation).

The ‘Digital Forum Romanum’ is a combined research and teaching project at
the Winckelmann-Institut of the Humboldt-Universitaet zu Berlin: it brings
together academics and students who have been working since 2011 in
cooperation with Berlin’s ‘TOPOI’ Exzellenzcluster and the Deutsches
Archaeologisches Institut. The website publishes the first phase of the
project’s results: it will be further developed over the ensuing months.

All images and videos published on the website are available for teaching,
research and private use (with due copyright acknowledgment: ©
digitales-forum-romanum). Written permission is required for all other
publication purposes”

Scholars of Roman law will be particularly interested in the meeting place of the senate, the rostra, the tabularium where records were kept and the basilica where the law courts sat.

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