Next meeting of the Edinburgh Roman law group

The next meeting will take place on Friday 7 April at 5.30 pm in the New Neil MacCormick Room [floor 9 of the David Hume Tower]. Our speaker is Professor Lorena Atzeri from the University of Milan.

Details of the talk below and a brief cv attached:

“Britain and Interpolation Criticism: Periphery or Center?”
L. Atzeri

The most recent surveys of interpolation criticism in Roman law concentrate almost exclusively on its main actors – exponents and opponents – from those European countries in which this new research method had been developed and enthusiastically applied: Germany, Italy and to a lesser extent France. Great Britain has either been left out of the story altogether or considered (e.g. by Talamanca) to have been influenced by the methodology of interpolation criticism brought by German Roman law scholars of Jewish origin (Schulz, Pringsheim, Daube) who had migrated to Britain during the Nazi régime. Both representations need revision. The subject of interpolation criticism was in fact dealt with by both Francis de Zulueta and above all by William W. Buckland, Regius Professors of Civil Law at Oxford and Cambridge respectively, not always as we might expect. This paper will discuss the development of their points of view.

We hope to see many of you there,

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The First Female Lawyer in Scotland: Paper L.S.E.

Madge Easton Anderson (1896-1982) was the first woman in Scotland and the UK to qualify as a lawyer. Later, she became the first woman to qualify in both Scottish and English jurisdictions. Yet very little is known about her, unlike her English contemporaries. As part of the LSE Legal Biographies Project, Alison Lindsay of the National Records of Scotland will talk about her research into Anderson’s life and career.

Easton took the degrees of M.A. and LL.B. at the University of Glasgow. She had attended Hutchesons’ Girls’ Grammar School in Glasgow. She was not, however the first female law student in Scotland. That honour goes to two Edinburgh graduates:

The first woman graduates the United Kingdom came from England and Ireland in 1888.

Alison Lindsay has worked as an archivist in the National Records of Scotland for 25 years, most recently as Head of the Legal and Historical Search Rooms where every day she helps people seeking access to the 80km of records held there. She is currently researching early Scottish women in the law as part of the 2019 Women’s Legal Landmarks project.

Her talk will be at 7pm, Moot Court Room, New Academic Building, LSE

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Doctoral Studentships: Max Planck Institute for European History

Positions for Doctoral Students at the Max Planck Institute for European Legal History
Several positions are currently open for doctoral students at the Max Planck Institute for European Legal History in Frankfurt:
up to four doctoral students – Research Group: Transitions and Translations
one doctoral student – Research Group: Governance of the Universal Church
up to two doctoral students – Law and Diversity (German proficiency required)
Further information on these positions and application deadlines are available on the institute’s website:

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.

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Max Planck Summer Academy for Legal History 2017

Special Theme: Conflict Regulation

Date: 25 July – 04 August 2017
Deadline: 31 March 2017

The Course
The Max-Planck Summer Academy for Legal History provides a selected group of highly motivated early-stage graduates, usually PhD candidates, an in-depth introduction to methods and principles of research in legal history.
The academy consists of two parts. The first part provides an introduction to the study of sources, methodological principles, as well as theoretical models and controversial research debates on basic research fields of legal history.
In the second part the participants discuss the special research theme and develop their own approach to the theme.
The course will take place at the Max Planck Institute for European Legal History in Frankfurt am Main, Germany.

Special Theme 2017: Conflict Regulation
Conflict is not just a constant challenge for the law, but also a key means of access to its history. Each society develops its own set of means of conflict regulation. The diversity ranges from different forms of dispute resolution and mediation to traditional juridical procedures at local and global level. The way conflicts are regulated reveals the normative options chosen by the parties involved in the conflict. Thus, conflicts and their regulation can provide an insight into local contingencies, traditions, as well as the pragmatic contexts and leading authorities of the law, the living law. Research projects to be presented at the Summer Academy should concentrate on historical mechanisms of conflict regulation and offer a critical reflection about the methods used for analyzing the conflicts and the way they are dealt with.
Eligibility Requirements
• Early-stage graduates, usually PhD candidates
• Working knowledge of English is required, German is not a prerequisite
Required documents for the application are a CV, a project summary (approx. 10 pages) and a letter of motivation.
There is no participation fee. Accommodation will be provided by the organizers. Participants, however, will be responsible for covering their travel expenses. There will be a limited number of scholarships available.
For further information please visit the Max Planck Summer Academy’s website:
Max Planck Institute for European Legal History
Dr. Stefanie Rüther, e-mail:

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Leibniz, Nova methodus discendae docendaeque jurisprudentiae – new translation from Talbot Publishing

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz is nowadays best remembered as an inventor of calculus (in rivalry with Isaac Newton) and as the man lampooned by Voltaire as Pangloss. But of course, there was much more to him than that. He deserves further study.
Your blogger has visited the charming university buildings at Altdorf near Nuremberg where Leibniz gained his doctorate in law (and where Hugues Doneau had earlier taught); he has also explored some of Leibniz’s correspondence with Alexander Cunningham, a Scots scholar, involving kind and energetic assistance from the Leibniz Archive in Hanover. Cunningham spent much of his life working on an unfinished new edition of the Digest; this was a topic of interest to the German polymath – hence their correspondence. But it also indicates the importance of law to Leibniz, an importance often overlooked and perhaps overshadowed by his other achievements as mathematician and philosopher. His very definition of justice as the “charity of the wise” is novel and unique, suggesting the interest in his works on law, and the depths of Leibniz as an original thinker.
In 1667, a year after Leibniz gained his doctorate, he published his Nova methodus discendae docendaeque jurisprudentiae, which he dedicated to the Elector of Mainz – an ambitious work for a newly fledged jurist. The aim of the book was practical. It also contained an important essay on the law of nature. This discussion is still important. Leibniz reflected on the various and conflicting understandings of natural law in the ancient world, while also engaging in an anlysis of modern scholars, most notably Grotius and Hobbes. This is not the place to explore in detail this important work; but it is an interesting exemplar of a rationalist approach, in which, for example, he calls for a logical restructuring of the Corpus iuris (which explains his interest in the work of Cunningham) as well as for a revision of legal education.
Of course, the second half of the seventeenth century saw a considerable amount of discussion of the teaching of law, with new subjects introduced into legal education, such as the law of nature and nations, and new methods, such as the methodus compendiaria. This means that it is important that we contextualize Leibniz’s work as a work on legal education as well as reflecting on it as an exemplar of his legal thought. This means it is necessary to compare it with other contemporary works on the method of legal education, such as Ulric Huber’s famous dialogue of 1684, De ratione juris docendi & discendi diatribe, recently translated by Margaret Hewett (Nijmegen 2010). After all, the theme is hardly original; what is original is the treatment.
In 2014, Professor Matthias Armgardt of Konstanz, the noted expert on Leibniz’s legal philosophy, remarked that for proper study of Leibniz’s legal thought, translations were necessary of a number of the great German scholar’s works, including a translation of the Nova methodus; Armgardt noted, however, that this work had very recently been translated into Italian by Carmelo Massimo de Iuliis. The same translator has now produced an English version of the 1667 Frankfurt edition of the Nova methodus with notes and an introduction. For all interested in thinking about legal education and legal study in the Baroque age, this will be an invaluable publication, making more accessible the thoughts—if youthful—of an intellectual giant of the age. The volume contains a useful introduction to Leibniz, as well as annotations. The distinguished comparatist, William E. Butler of Pennsylvania State, best known for his work on the Soviet Union and Russia, has provided a preface.
While the Nova methodus is readily available in Latin in libraries or on the internet, the new translation will hopefully encourage greater engagement with Leibniz’s legal work in the Anglophone world. The days where proper study can be expected of works in Latin is passing. This translation should make it easier both to place the Nova methodus contextually in a consideration of legal education in Europe and to assess its impact.
The new translation has been published by Talbot Publishing, an imprint of the Lawbook Exchange, at what is now a very modest cost for a hardback book: $85.00 (ISBN 978-1-61619-547-2). This must encourage further study of this important figure in the world of English-language scholarship.


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Legal History Event – Glasgow

From our colleagues in Glasgow, notice of the following event:

On 17 March 2017 at 5.00 pm, Lucinda Kirby of the University of Liverpool, presently holding the post of Alan Rodger Postgraduate Visiting Researcher at the University of Glasgow, will speak on:

Public doctors and the law in fourth century Egypt

The event will take place in room 207, 10 The Square, University Avenue, The University of Glasgow, G12 8QQ. All are welcome.

If you wish to attend the dinner afterwards, please reply to Prof E. Metzger as soon as possible, at

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Stair Society Bursary, 2017-2018

For the academic year 2017–18, the Stair Society, Scotland’s leading legal history society, will offer one or more one-year bursaries of £1,000 to postgraduate students who are enrolled in a Masters or PhD programme and who are preparing a thesis in Scottish legal history, broadly construed. At the time of application eligible postgraduates will be registered at a UK or Irish university. The bursary may be used for subsistence costs, research trips, or to attend conferences.

Applications should be made by 31 March 2017 to the Secretary of the Stair Society, Dr Karen Baston, by email attachment to:

These should include: a) a letter of application setting out the current stage of completion of the thesis, with an appended outline; b) a CV; c) details of any other funding which the candidate is receiving towards their studies; and d) two academic references. Applications should be submitted as a single PDF file.

Candidates will be notified by 30 April of the outcome of their applications, which will be assessed by a panel nominated by the Society’s Council.

The successful applicant will also receive a year’s complimentary membership of the Stair Society, which includes free access to the Society’s publications via HeinOnline and complimentary copies of the Society’s publications issued during the year. Further information about membership is on the membership page of the Society’s website, at A successful candidate will be required to present a 400-word report to the Council on their year’s progress, covering the use made of the bursary, within two months of the end of the academic year. Successful candidates will also be required to acknowledge the support of the Stair Society in their thesis and in any relevant publication.


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Winter school in Padua – Roman criminal law

For those wishing to spend a few glorious days in the lovely Padua, herewith a notice on the winter school offered by the University of Padua on Roman criminal law. The cast is truly a stellar one. Details here:LOCANDINA WS 2017-1


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Theorizing contacts in the Roman Empire

From our colleagues in Classics, the following conference announcement:

University of Edinburgh, 8-9 December 2017

We live in a multicultural world, in which every community develops in constant interaction with others. A series of theoretical models have been developed to explain these contacts, which in recent years have been utilized to understand the ancient world. In the context of the Roman empire, these theories are typically used to examine the interactions of various indigenous populations with their rulers. These kinds of studies were once grouped under the heading “Romanization”, though the increased questioning of the term’s validity has given rise to a diverse range of alternatives. These are often drawn from modern theoretical backgrounds: multiculturalism and multilingualism are two recent concepts employed in this realm.

The aim of this conference is to assess the validity and scope of a variety of some of these models, with a particular focus on multilingualism and multiculturalism. By promoting and facilitating dialogue between disciplines, we shall aim to provide effective tools for different fields’ approaches in parallel (e.g. historical and linguistic). This has already been done very successfully in a few cases (e.g. ‘code-switching’), though greater interaction remains a desideratum. It is hoped that the participants will thereby open the discussion for a ‘theory of contact’ in the Roman world.

We invite scholars from a range of fields, including epigraphists and papyrologists, philologists, legal historians, and archaeologists to consider if and how the multiculturalism and multilingualismmodels can be applied in the following areas:

· Language: onomastics; ancient bilingualism; language preservation and change.
· Law: the interaction between native and Roman law; issues of status.
· Literature: the response of Roman and Greek authors to “others”.
· Art and visual culture: interactions of Roman and indigenous styles; religious and cult imagery.

Papers that consider the role of the individual within these topics are especially welcome.

Confirmed Speakers: Andrew Wallace-Hadrill (Cambridge), Alex Mullen (Nottingham), Olivia Elder (Cambridge), Christian Djurslev (Edinburgh)

Proposals: We welcome proposals from scholars at any stage of their career. PhD students, early career and independent researchers are highly encouraged to participate.

Papers will be 25 minutes long, followed by 10 minutes of discussion. For your proposals please include title, name(s) of speaker(s), affiliation(s), an abstract of 300 words, and a select bibliography. Please send to

Posters on particular case-studies or specific concepts will be accommodated in a designated poster session and prizes will be awarded to the three best entries. Proposals for posters should have the same format as that of the papers. Please, use POSTER as the “Subject” of your email.

The deadline for all proposals (papers and posters) is 28th February.

For further information please contact the organizers: Kimberley Czajkowski ( and/or Andreas Gavrielatos (

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Edinburgh Postgraduate Legal History Conference

Guest blog by Peter Candy

Alongside the legal history session chaired by Ross Macdonald at this year’s Edinburgh Postgraduate Law Conference (for which see here), I also had the pleasure of chairing a second session dedicated to the same discipline. The theme of the conference – ‘Law and its Boundaries’ – was reflected across the four papers which were presented.

Graeme Cunningham (Glasgow), in his paper entitled ‘Law, Rhetoric and Science: Historical Narratives in Roman Law’, demonstrated that in the development of the law surrounding bonorum possessio the praetor was heavily influenced by equitable considerations. By showing the praetor’s susceptibility to rhetorical arguments, Graeme successfully showed the value of a contextual analysis when investigating the development of Roman legal thought.

Jumping forward 1700 years, Franziska Arnold-Dwyer (Queen Mary University of London) delivered a fascinating paper entitled ‘Fraudulent Captains, Gambling Aristocrats and a Transgender Diplomat: A History of the Doctrine of Insurable Interest’. Following Graeme’s lead, Franziska also demonstrated that the doctrine cannot be fully understood without an appreciation of the social and economic context from which it arose. Of particular interest to your blogger was the exploitation of policies requiring no insurable interest on the part of the insured, which were exploited by fraudsters who overvalued cargoes, only to arrange for them to be captured or sunk on the high seas. The practice will remind the classically minded of an episode in Livy (25.3.8-14), in which the Roman state assumed the risk of shipwreck for transports sailing with supplies to Spain during the Second Punic War. Groups of tax-farmers, never missing an opportunity to make a quick buck, repeatedly defrauded the treasury by overvaluing their cargoes and then reporting them lost at sea.

Two final papers were delivered by Ciarán Crowley and Aengus Fallon (University College Dublin). Ciarán, in ‘Censorship of Literature in Ireland lives on, though only just: Thoughts following the Censorship of Publications Bill 2013’, explored the historical origins and continuing impact of the Committee of Evil Literature. The presenter identified the missed opportunity presented by the passage of the 2013 bill, which might have led to the unification of the still-extant Censorship Board of Ireland with the Film Classification Board. Continuing on the theme of Irish legal history, Aengus Fallon discussed the influences on the drafting of key legislation in the Irish Free State between 1922-24. Again, as is evident from all the papers, context triumphed: the exigencies of the rapid creation of a functioning constitutional machinery, coupled with a scarcity of resources (Arthur Matheson, the sole parliamentary drafter at the time, was indefatigable in his task), led to a replication of the Westminster model and a spate of legislative plagiarism.

A debt of gratitude is owed to the session sponsors, the Centre for Legal History, as well as to the Centre’s director, Dr Paul du Plessis, who acted as discussant. Thanks should also be extended to the conference committee for convening the event, and finally to the presenters themselves, for providing such thought-provoking insights into their research.

Peter Candy is a doctoral candidate at Edinburgh Law School.

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