Reflections on Barry Nicholas’ Introduction to Roman Law by Wolfgang Ernst

On 2 November, 2017, Brasenose College, University of Oxford, organised a Memorial Conference on Barry Nicholas, as part of a series “Great Brasenose Lawyers”. Barry Nicholas spent his entire career at Brasenose. The event was more, as it advertised itself, a retrospective view and a discussion. Professor Wolfgang Ernst of Oxford addressed the issue of Barry Nicholas as a Romanist, Professor Birke Häcker spoke of hm as a comparative lawyer, Mr Jeffrey Hackney discussed him as a tutor in Roman Law, and Professor Emeritus Francis Reynolds explored his work on international sales. For details, see https://www.bnc.ox.ac.uk/about-brasenose/princblog/1853-principal-s-blog-early-november.

This blog is delighted to publish a revised version of Professor Ernst’s talk.

Cognitive Closure in Roman Law:

Reflections on Barry Nicholas’ An Introduction to Roman Law

by Wolfgang Ernst (Oxford)

These are remarks about Barry Nicholas as a Roman Law scholar. A talk about Barry Nicholas as a Romanist, in 2017, must focus on his ‘An Introduction to Roman Law’. For good order, however, one may note that in 1972 Nicholas took over Jolowicz’ ‘Historical Introduction to the Study of Roman Law’, which thus became Jolowicz and Nicholas, and that he published eight scholarly Roman law papers in a range of internationally recognized journals, between 1958 and 1983. They were state of the art contributions.

Published in 1962, An Introduction to Roman Law, was one of the very first books of the Clarendon Law Series. Tony Honoré and Joseph Raz were the general editors. Some of the other books published in that series were Hart’s The Concept of Law, Atiyah’s An Introduction to the Law of Contract, Peter Cane’s Administrative Law, and Rupert Cross’ Precedent in English Law.

Barry Nicholas’ book is a success story and a classic. Peter Birks, in his 2002 obituary for the British Academy, gave the number of 50,000 copies sold, not counting the foreign language editions. The book has been translated into Spanish and, in 2000, into Chinese. There is now also a translation into Macedonian. Peter Birks remembered that the Press had approached Barry Nicholas to work on a new edition of ‘the book, which many regard as his masterpiece’: ‘If truth be told, it needs no second edition. It is perfect as it stands It does its job as well today as it did forty years ago.’ When Ernest Metzger saw that the book got a fresh reprint in 2008, he left the text unchanged, and just added a glossary, a new bibliography and a foreword. This, indeed, is the way to treat a classic.

What is the secret of the book’s success? Let me start with a few words about the difficulty of textbook-writing, especially in the historical sciences. What we know about the past, or legal systems of the past, is the result of careful and methodological exploration of a limited set of sources. Each and every statement in a history textbook has a mostly hidden background of sources and their – sometimes controversial – interpretation. There are different degrees in our confidence that something written for the student will indeed have been the case. If we were to flag out in an introductory book all the shades of probability, our remaining doubts and the inability to rule out, once and for all, that a different narrative might be closer to the past – the end-product would be readable for the mature specialist only.

It is inevitable, therefore, that an introductory textbook is twice removed from the realities of the past: It sums up today’s state of research, ironing out some of the unevenness of our scholarly controversies, and the state of research thus reported in turn is but an imperfect, fragmented, and necessarily unsystematic set of insights, in our case regarding the law of the Romans, as it evolved over a millennium. Compared to the ragged state of historical research, an introductory textbook will almost inevitably give a too polished view of the field.

A textbook for a historical subject, the approximation of an approximation, should of course also hold up when critically scrutinized by the expert in the field. It is a balancing act. Balancing acts often end in a state of indecision, an unsteady wobbling between conflicting ideals. You get neither fish nor fowl. The greatness of Nicholas’ book, in my view, lies in the decision, vigorously carried out, to uncompromisingly prioritize the didactic purpose. Based on expert knowledge of Roman law, Nicholas introduces, without tripping-hazard, the student to the basics of Roman law, pure and simple, presenting the private law of the Romans, which so often was the product of contingent developments, as a web of intelligible narratives. A coherent picture of Roman law emerges, untroubled by the doubts and controversies which accompany the lively progress of our research.

An especially striking feature may highlight this point: The book is devoid of any specific reference to a fragment of the Institutes, the Digest or of whatever pertinent sources the reader could be referred to. I know of no other introductory textbook which has been so radical in this respect. It is not difficult to see why Nicholas pursued this policy. When you give a reference to a bit of the Digest, to back up what is stated in your text, and the young reader looks it up, she or he may well find that the bit of the Digest does not in fact say this in the very same words. Rather, he or she will find a specific case and a proposition as to how it should be decided; the case may involve a number of elements in a legal interplay, not that easily dissected and understood. Yes, the abstract statement which the Digest-text is assumed to back-up, seems to be there, but intermingled with other statements of law, and doubts may remain, whether the Digest-bit could not perhaps be read differently altogether, depriving it of its evidentiary value for the passage of the text it is meant to support. In order to protect the student from the risk of getting confused, better not have references at all?

Here the book’s ‘secret of success’ becomes apparent: the book offers cognitive closure. A highly dedicated teacher, like Nicholas, gifted with empathy for the beginners and their woes, must know how many students indeed crave cognitive closure. And this is what the ‘Introduction’ provides the reader with.

Cognitive closure is a sweet drug. Sooner or later, the good student will have to be confronted with the complexities and riddles of historical research, the fragmented nature of our knowledge, and the tools to critically handle sources. We expect and hope that our students will acquire a sufficiently confident command of their subject, asking and pursuing questions of their own, discerning reliable findings and still unproven hypotheses, thus deserving their swimming badge in the stormy seas of research.

The author of an introductory work is, of course, fully justified in saying that these problems are to be tackled once the student has progressed beyond the stage of a beginner, and that the care for the young students requires setting up, temporarily, a systematized and intelligible world, letting problems recede into the background. Some dry run before you go into the water. Assuming that we can get (all or most) students to sometime leave the safe port, this may come with a serious risk of ‘cold turkey’. And that risk may even be the greater, the better the introduction has been.

There is, of course, a radically different school of thought. Some teachers hold that the student, from her or his very first day, needs to be taken to the uncertain frontiers of research, with conflicting evidences and open questions: ‘Throw them into the water, may she or he swim or go under! Don’t give them a false sense of security!’

This is not the place to discuss the pros and cons of these two approaches. It is sufficient to say that if one followed the concept of getting students going in a more gradual manner, showing them some secure signposts and leaving the controversies and unknowns to a later stage, for the field of Roman law, one could not find a better work than Nicholas’ Introduction.

 

Nicholas as Romanist:

‘The Form of Stipulation in Roman Law’, LQR 69 (1953), 63-79 and 233-52.

with P. M. Fraser: ‘The Funerary Garden of Mousa’, JRS 48 (1958), 117-29.

‘Liability for Animals in Roman Law’, Acta Juridica [1958], 185-90.

Dicta Promissave’ in Studies in the Roman Law of Sale in Memory of Francis de Zulueta, ed. D. Daube (Oxford, 1959), 91-101.

with P. M. Fraser: ‘The Funerary Garden of Mousa Reconsidered’, JRS 52 (1962), 156-9.

Videbimus’ in Synteleia Vincenzo Arangio-Ruiz (Naples, 1964), vol. 1, 150-4.

Videbimus II’ in Studi in onore di Edoardo Volterra (Milan, 1971), vol. 2, 577-604.

F. Jolowicz and B. Nicholas, Historical Introduction to the Study of Roman Law, 3rd edn., ed. B. Nicholas (Cambridge, 1972).

‘Theophilus and Contrectatio’, in Studies in Justinian’s Institutes in Memory of J. A. C. Thomas, ed. P. Stein and A. Lewis (London, 1983), 118-24.

[1] Peter Birks, ‘John Kieran Barry Moylan Nicholas, 1919-2002’, in: Proceedings of the British Academy, Volume 124: Biographical Memoirs of Fellows III (2004), 219-242, at 229.

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ERC-project REDHIS – position for a post-doctoral researcher: “A study of Roman legal writings in Late Antiquity: manuscripts and papyri”.

From our friends in Pavia:

Deadline for application: November 27th, 2017

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.

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 http://redhis.unipv.it/

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: the 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 27 November 2017. Applicants are advised to make sure that their applications comply with Italian regulations as laid out in the official “bando” of this post, which can be found in Italian and English at http://dsg.unipv.it/home/bandi-assegni-di-ricerca-e-co-co-co/progetto-redhis-bando-n-9-2017-per-il-conferimento-di-n-1-assegno-di-ricerca-call-for-award-of-n-1-type-b-research-grant.html

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

Further informal enquiries may be directed to Prof. Dario Mantovani (dario.mantovani@unipv.it)

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Doctoral and post-doctoral positions in Legal History

We have received the following notice from our friends in Helsinki:

We are excited to begin work with the Academy of Finland Centre of Excellence that will continue to work of the “Revisiting the Foundations of European Legal Culture 1934-1964” project (found law.org). The CoE will begin its activities on January 1st, 2018, but we will begin recruitment for researcher positions already now. In the first phase, we are hiring 3-4 postdocs for a period of four years each and three doctoral candidates also for a four year period. For the postdocs, the main rule is that one should not have more than five years of research activity behind her or him. The doctoral student positions will be opened next month.

What we would like to ask you is to distribute the job ad to your networks and especially to people who would be suitable candidates. For more information about the CoE and its different subprojects, check out our fledgeling website at eurostorie.org

Each of the subprojects (Law and the uses of the past, Discovering the limits of reason and Migration and the narrative of Europe) has a different focus, but they are tied thematically. Legal historians, lawyers, intellectual historians, philosophers, anthropologists, political scientists and the like are strongly encouraged to apply! The ads are here:

https://www.helsinki.fi/en/open-positions/postdoctoral-researcher-law-and-the-uses-of-the-past

https://www.helsinki.fi/en/open-positions/postdoctoral-researcher-migration-and-the-narrative-of-europe-as-an-area-of-freedom-security-and-justice

https://www.helsinki.fi/en/open-positions/postdoctoral-researcher-discovering-the-limits-of-reason-europe-and-the-crisis-of-universalism

Thank you very much for your help! We look forward to having you as our guest in one or more of our events.

With all the best,

Kaius Tuori, Reetta Toivanen and Pamela Slotte
Directors, CoE for Law, Identity and the European Narratives

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Law’s Picture Books (2017)

Your blogger recently mentioned the paintings in what was once the consistory court room in Dunkeld Cathedral. Such matter is very important for legal historians, as the material relics and material culture of the law an be very informative. For example, though one does not want to enter into the complexity of editions of the Scottish statutes by Sir Thomas Murray of Glendook, some imprints of his folio edition of the Scottish statutes of 1681 (see Wing S1265) have a title page with the royal coat of arms, and medallions depicting the Stewart monarchs from James I to Charles II (at the top), the latter with depictions of “Majesty” and “Justice” on either side. The statutes are presented as made by the kings, and as the foundations of Scots law. The whole is supporting the divine right of monarchs, and underscoring the importance in the law of the Stewart monarchy. Unfortunately, such iconography and imagery rarely occurs in Scots law books, though it would be valuable to study what there is, as indeed to examine court rooms, mercat crosses, portraits and the like. Other legal printing and manuscript traditions are, however, much richer.

The Grolier Club in New York is currently hosting an exhibition, “Law’s Picture Books”, which explores images in legal books, and manuscripts of all types, ages, and origins. Curated by Michael Widener of of Yale Law School with Mark S. Weiner of Rutgers Law School, the Exhibition (17 September to 18 November), draws on the riches of the Yale Rare Law Book Collection to explore imagery in legal texts. The exhibition displays not only rare historic texts, but also modern ones. For example, there is a splendid and witty graphic-art depiction of the terms and conditions of iTunes. Not all the illustrations present the law and its practitioners as noble; many provide a critique, obvious or concealed.

The Catalogue of the exhibition has recently been appeared under the imprint of Talbot Publishing. it is splendidly illustrated. It contains essays by Widener and Weiner, respectively on the formation of the collection at Yale and the choices made for the exhibition, as well as one on “Ars Memoria in Early Law: Looking beneath the Pictures” by Yolanda E. Goldberg of the Law Library of Congress”, which explores the world with the issue of memory in mind, and one on “Laws Picture Books and the History of Book Illustration” by Erin C. Blake of the Folger Library, contextualising and explaining the images in the history of book illustration. The Catalogue, like the exhibition, is divided into topics, with some introductory and explanatory matter; this does not overwhelm and the reader/viewer can reflect on the images splendidly reproduced. Images are interestingly juxtaposed to promote questioning and new readings, such as the normative hierarchy of law from a contemporary German textbook, with older “trees” to set out norms and rules on affinity.

The modestly-priced Catalogue, Law’s Picture Books: The Yale Law Library Collection, is comprehensive enough to be used with classes to help them reflect on the iconography of the law. Two of the images of court rooms have dogs in them. The common appearance of dogs in court rooms scenes from the Dutch golden age has always provoked the curiosity of this blogger. Why are they there? Contemporary paintings of the vast, empty, Dutch protestant churches also often have dogs in them. Of course, dogs are traditional subjects for art form the ancient world to the modern; they can carry many meanings. But in a court scene they presumably symbolise fidelity, loyalty, and truth. Readers and students could reflect on the differing images of justice. There is much here.

Images below are courtesy of Talbot Publishing: ISBN-13: 9781616191603. ISBN-10:1616191600. Paperback. New. $39.95

 

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Peter Chiene Lecture, 2017

The Peter Chiene Lecture, 2017, will be delivered by Professor Michel Morin, Université de Montréal, on 3 November, 2017. The title will be:

“The Survival and Vitality of The Civil Law Tradition in Quebec, 1760-2017”

It will be held in the Anatomy Lecture Theatre, in the Old Medical School, Teviot Place at 5.30.

It will be followed by a Reception

 (courtesy U Montreal)

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Louis V de la Vergne (1938-2017)

Some years ago this blog had an entry on the de la Vergne manuscript or volume, with photographs of it and Louis V de la Vergne, its possessor. Mr de la Vergne has recently died. He was a man who was generous with his time and who was fascinated with the legal history of Louisiana and his ancestors and family’s many links with it. Among his ancestry can be counted well-known individuals such as Villeré, Bermudez, and Schmidt. Mr de la Vergne was very supportive of scholars and their research, and enthusiastic about their findings.

The earlier entry explained the significance of the manuscript in the history of the Territory of Orleans and the early state of Louisiana. The volume originated in the work of Louis Moreau Lislet, one of the redactors of the Digest of the Civil Laws Now in Force in the Territory of Orleans, generally known as the first Louisiana Civil Code, which was promulgated in 1808. The volume has generated much interest and discussion. See http://www.elhblog.law.ed.ac.uk/2010/09/28/the-de-la-vergne-volume-and-louisiana-legal-history/; http://www.elhblog.law.ed.ac.uk/2010/09/28/the-de-la-vergne-volume-and-louisiana-legal-history/

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Early Modern Moveable Texts and Minotaurs

Guest blog by Ross Macdonald 

Anyone studying early modern legal texts knows that the text, and its authorship, may be “moveable”; they may appear successively under the nominal authorship of different jurists, so that identifying the true writer may be difficult. One striking example arose in my recent study of collation, the procedural device whereby gifts made by parent to child are taken into account when the child later claims in succession to the parent’s estate.

The nominal author, in this case, was Marcus Antonius de Amatis, a jurist who was an assessor on the Rota of, successively, Genoa, Lucca, and the Marche, dying in 1624. His Decisiones Rotae Provinciae Marchiae appeared in various editions, in particular as part of a composite work issued in Frankfurt am Main in 1602 and (without apparent changes) 1662, Decisionum Libri II nunc primum in Germania…  Vicentii Carocii Tudertini et Marc. Ant. de Amatis.  At the end was appended a Repetitio L. si emancipati C. de collationibus  [= C. 6.20.9]; while no author was explicitly identified, Vinnius in his own book on collation quite understandably cited it under Amatis’s name. Besides its length – 58 dense pages –  the Repetitio fills the reader with gloom by its opening greeting: this topic is like Daedalus’s Labyrinth in Crete: once you enter, getting out is impossible or at least very difficult.

But the Repetitio was not by Amatis at all. The clue is in its concluding pages. These comprise a long eyewitness account of a famine riot in Lyon on 24 April 1539, written – it says – by “pater meus nobilis, et egregius vir Ludouicus de Laurentiis legum doctor” and addressed to François, Cardinal of Clermont and Papal legate in Avignon.  This suggests that the true original author – the “pater” – was Louis Laurenti (Nice, post 1467 – Avignon, post 1504; doctor legum in 1504, and one of a family of Avignonese jurists); biographical details taken from  Le Chesnaye-Desbois, Louis: Dictionnaire de la Noblesse (Paris, 1863-1876).  The son was Hieronymus de Laurentiis (Jerome da Avignon, 1517-1606): Coing, Handbuch II/2 (1976), p. 1181, 1183.

To complicate matters, the Repetitio was also published under the son’s name as an appendix to Decisiones Rotae sacri palatii apostolici Avenionis. … Auctore illust. &  Mag. D. Hieron. a Laurentiis, Avenionensi, Utriusque Iuris comite, & eiusdem Rotae decano  (Lyon, 1600). This version was cited in turn in Fontana’s  Bibliotheca Legalis (1688) and Burkhard Gotthelf Struve’s Bibliotheca iuris selecta  (Jena (6th edn), 1725).

So, back to the Labyrinth with Ariadne….

Ross Macdonald  is a  doctoral candidate at Edinburgh Law School

 

 

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A Newly-discovered Medieval Legal Manuscript

Guest blog by Ross Macdonald 

Readers with an interest in undiscovered antique legal texts will be fascinated by a recent report by scholars from Northwestern University, Illinois into a medieval law text discovered in the binding of a 16th century volume. (A summary article is at  https://www.livescience.com/59925-imaging-reveals-medieval-text.html  and the full article, which appears in (2017) Analytica Chimica Acta,  at  http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0003267017307201?via=ihub ; henceforth “Analytica”). The finding brings to mind the techniques used at Vindolanda, on tablets from London’s Walbrook, and carbonised scrolls from Herculaneum.  As such it has received press coverage, some of it – in the way of second-hand press coverage – going breathlessly beyond what was actually said (“a sixth century manuscript”). This blog briefly considers the legal significance of the text deciphered.

First, though, the document and the technology applied to it (with apologies for any mis-statements arising from my effort to summarise). This involves a printed (1537) copy of Hesiod’s  Works and Days  which Northwestern’s Library acquired in 1870. It has now been found that the volume incorporated an earlier manuscript legal text (which turns out to be from Justinian’s Institutes): not, as in some cases, as strips of padding in the spine, but re-using two parchment pages to cover the endboards. In the process the pages were treated to remove most of the existing writing, but some survived partly because the ink had “burnt” into the material; and the pages had been trimmed heavily at the sides and corners to fit the boards. The research team set out to identify the text if possible, by imaging it in different spectra. Their achievement, which is remarkable, has been to make most of of the writing – apart from some of the smallest script – readable. (It should be said that many passages only make sense once their legal source is identified and compared with other editions; information which was not available to the research team.  I found the editions from Venice (1618) and Lyon (1627) – the first available online at   https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=ucm.5324323553;view=1up;seq=171 , the second at  https://droitromain.univ-grenoble-alpes.fr/ – particularly useful in that respect: both retain the Vulgate text but print it in extended form – the “Analytica” like many medieval versions contracts words very heavily – and both add extra commentary to the standard medieval Gloss.)

So, the point of the project was partly to test the potential of the team’s methods for future use, and in that they have been brilliantly successful.

The legal significance of the texts is, therefore, very much secondary. How were the passages to be identified?  They consist of central texts surrounded by marginal glosses – one margin having been cropped away from each page – and various interlineations by later users.  Fortunately a (relatively) easily-readable passage in the gloss on one page discussed Adam’s marriage status (or lack of it under canon law), and the text could be identified as Book 1.10.4-5  De Nuptiis of the Institutes. This led the team to postulate that the manuscript had been compiled specifically for educating canon lawyers; that it represented a relatively early stage in textual development – the glosses being fragmentary; and, going further, that it may have been discarded when changes in canon law made the old text obsolete.

While possible, that is not the most obvious explanation. There are two crucial points. First, the other page covers Institutes 1.12.4-5  Quibus Modis Ius Potestatis Solvitur (ie loss of paternal authority, particularly by military service or capture). This has nothing to do with canon law; indeed this page has more notes by users than the other; and the two pages are not contiguous. So the manuscript need not have been prepared in a specifically canonist teaching context. Secondly, the gloss (so far as I can make out) is not fragmentary, except insofar as all legal glosses were  – though by looking only at “Analytica” one admittedly can hardly tell, words being so highly abbreviated and lacking most of the helpful markers (indexing by letter, line breaks,etc) seen in many editions. At any rate, comparison with print editions suggests that all the expected gloss words are present (though, as I note later, not all necessarily in the right order). In short, the manuscript looks like a standard edition of the Institutes with the usual Glossa Ordinaria.

So it seems likely that the source manuscript was a standard “pecia” style copy of part or all of Book 1, perhaps commissioned by a student (not being a palaeographer, I make no comment on the likely date). With the era of print editions (often including more extensive critical textual apparatus) there would be ample reason to dispose of a worn old manuscript.

One might add that the gloss layout seems technically rather inexpert: the gloss does not match up with the adjacent Institutes text (some appears to relate to text which would have been on a previous page); there is not the “bespoke” page-by-page adjustment of text layout which is common at least in printed editions; and there is a significant error in the copying, which I now turn to.

The page on Institutes 1.12.4 contains a long interlineation near the foot, in the gap between the central text and the marginal gloss. (While the image embedded in the authors’ livescience.com  blog is just readable – enough at least to identify the text – the version embedded in the “Analytica” article itself has slightly poorer resolution.) It is, compared with the very small and now-illegible other notes on that page, fairly firmly written. The passage puzzled me, but it turns out – when “Analytica” is compared with printed editions – to be a misplaced marginal gloss: one which should have belonged in the (now-lost) left-hand margin but had been missed out by the copyist and added in at some later date. That sort of error is common in legal manuscripts: thanks to the abbreviations, and the frequent repetition of important words, it was easy for a copyist to jump a couple of lines by mistake. The “Analytica” gloss actually differs slightly from that in printed editions: they read  “bestiis.  Deducendis forte, vel etiam cum comederet cum eis, vel alia bestialia faceret”; “Analytica” seems to have “comederent… facerent” but again that sort of variation was common, as the “n” was often skipped in abbreviation and the associated “macron” (ē) might be mistakenly omitted or, conversely, extended in full form thus altering the tense.

As for the other brief notes in smaller script, only a few letters can be made out. They seem to include additional citations – with the occasional “FF” sign which denotes passages from the Digest – but I could not be sure.

At least two other unusual variants in the text are worth noting. First, in Institutes 1.12.4, at (in the Birks/Macleod translation) “to release a son from the bonds of his authority”,  Krueger has “relaxare”. The more common late 15th century and 16th century reading was “liberare”.  But Cujas (as the Lyon 1627 edition notes) pointed out that “omnes veteres codices” had “relaxare”. This, too, is the “Analytica” reading, which may perhaps suggest a relatively early manuscript date.

The other relates to Institutes 1.10.4, in Krueger “Duorum autem… liberi… iungi possunt” (ie can marry). The common 15th/16th century version was similar, “coniungi”. But there was another possible reading, discussed at length by Cujas (again excerpted in the Lyon 1627 edition): “non possunt”; this went back to a commentary by (or attributed to) the Theophilus who participated in Justinian’s work of compilation. And we see “non” interlineated in the “Analytica” manuscript. Since it was re-used as binding in 1537, we seem to see here a Humanist influence predating Cujas.

So, arguably, a relatively “ordinary” legal text. But its very ordinariness can make it in its way as valuable as egregious nuggets. Any addition to the corpus of medieval legal manuscripts is useful, and the potential of the Northwestern University team’s method is immensely welcome for future research.

Ross Macdonald  is a doctoral candidate at Edinburgh Law School

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Granville Sharp & Slavery — New Book

All British historians of slavery in the eighteenth century are familiar with the campaigning work of Granville Sharp. A civil servant, Sharp devoted much time, energy, and money to opposing slavery and promoting its abolition. he was one of the architects of the plan to settle free slaves and the poor blacks found in London in Sierra Leone. He was one of the founders of the Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade.

Sharp was involved in promoting cases to free individuals held as slaves in England, as well as intervening in other litigation. Most famous is the story of Jonathan Strong and the case of Somerset v Steuart. Sharp is a well-known figure. Andrew Lyall has recently published with hart Publishing Granville Sharp’s Cases on Slavery (2017). This contains a general contextual narrative; but what is important is the printing of transcripts of cases in which Sharp was involved. This has put a great deal of very useful primary material into much wider circulation. If, like this blogger, you teach a course on slavery, this provides invaluable material accessible to undergraduates.

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Family law(s) under the Roman Empire

See our workshop announcement and call for PhDs to contribute to this workshop: Workshop CfA PhD Family Laws

 

Posted in Ancient law, Greek law, Legal History, Papyrology, Roman Law | Leave a comment