Tamar Herzog, Helsinki

Professor Tamar Herzog (Harvard University) will give a lecture in the Helsinki Legal History Series with the title “Slaves as Outsiders, Slaves as Things: Understanding Enslavement in a Global and Early Modern Context”. The lecture is organized by the Comparing Early Modern Colonial Laws -project (prof. Heikki Pihlajamäki) together with the Centre of Excellence in Law, Identity and the European Narratives (Kaius Tuori).

Date and time: Tuesday 12 December, 15.00-16.30 (GB 13.00-14.30)

Place: Porthania (Faculty Room, P545) and online via zoom.

Tamar Herzog is one of the leading historians of early modern law and colonial legal history. Her recent books include A Short History of European Law: The Last Two and a Half Milennia (2018, Harvard University Press) and Frontiers of Possession: Spain and Portugal in Europe and the Americas (2015, Harvard University Press).

We wish you all warmly welcome! A zoom link for the event for those joining us online:



Meeting ID: 629 0901 4431
Passcode: 086940

Rare Books Course, Yale 9-14 June, 2024

Kathryn James and Mike Widener will be co-teaching the Rare Book School course, “Law Books: History and Connoisseurship,” at the Yale Law School next summer, June 9-14. Drawing on the Yale Law Library’s outstanding rare book collection, the course offers an intensive week-long introduction to the history of law materials in print and manuscript, and to developing and using historical collections for teaching and research. Kathryn James became the Yale Law Library’s rare book librarian in 2021 upon Mike Widener’s retirement. If you’ve waited and wondered about the course, know that this will be the last opportunity to take the class with Mike Widener, who will be hanging up his Rare Book School boots on June 15 after fourteen years.

Details of registration are available on the Rare Book School website.

For those readers of this blog who are unfamiliar with the Rare Book School, it has done much to spread knowledge of the importance of the proper study of books to many scholarly disciplines. The website indicates the range of activities. If Mike is ending his work for the summer course, one hopes he will continue other activities, as there are few around who are so learned and charismatic as propagandist for the proper study of books, printing, book culture and what they tell us about past and present.


Alan Watson Seminar in Comparative Legal History: Fernanda Pirie – Why Study Tibetan Law?

About the speaker

Fernanda Pirie uses anthropological and comparative methods to compare legal practices and texts from around the world. She has carried out ethnographic fieldwork at both ends of the Tibetan plateau and also conducted historical work on Tibetan legal texts.

The Rule of Laws: a 4,000-year quest to order the world (Profile Books, Basic Books, 2021), her most recent book, is a global history of law. It traces the rise and fall of the world’s major legal systems and compares examples of historic law-making worldwide.

In her earlier monograph, The Anthropology of Law (OUP, 2013), Fernanda addresses the nature of law as a social form, as well as analysing its role in societies. This approach builds on themes and debates developed in the Oxford Legalism project, a collaboration between scholars from anthropology, history, and other disciplines, which produced four edited volumes (Legalism, OUP, 4 vols).

Fernanda’s research on Tibetan legal texts was funded by the AHRC and established a web-site containing source material (https://tibetanlaw.org/project) as well as several publications on the nature of Tibetan law and its relationship with Buddhism. She has also has worked with historians of the region in two ANR/DFG projects to develop the social history of Tibet.

This event is a hybrid event.

Register to attend online.

Register to attend in person

Helsinki Legal History Series, Spring 2024

The details of the forthcoming series can be found here

More information about the past and upcoming individual seminars on the EuroStorie website or through EuroStorie’s social media channels. 


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When: Tuesday, 28 November 2023, 3:00pm-4:30pm (UTC+3).

Where: Porthania Building, Faculty Room P545, University of Helsinki. You can also join us online via Zoom:

Title of the lecture:  Money, Markets and Merit: The Legal and Economic Thought of Leonardus Lessius

Join Zoom Meeting https://helsinki.zoom.us/j/62909014431?pwd=SUtZTFZMN1VFMk9Xb0hMazlKMGdCQT09

Meeting ID: 629 0901 4431
Passcode: 086940

MacQueen, Legal Consciousness

This Blog is pleased to note the publication of Law and Legal Consciousness in Medieval Scotland by Hector MacQueen, Professor Emeritus of Private Law in the University of Edinburgh. It is published by Brill in both E-book (ISBN 978-90-04-68376-1) and  Hardback format (ISBN 978-90-04-51228-3) at €163.00 in its series Medieval Law and Its Practice.

Professor MacQueen is the foremost historian of medieval Scots law, and indeed the prominent leader in Scottish legal history more generally. This standing was quickly established from the writing of his thesis under the supervision of W. David H. Sellar and Geoffrey Barrow, published as Common Law and Feudal Society in Medieval Scotland in 1993, reprinted as an Edinburgh Classic in 2016, with a foreword by Andrew Simpson, who quoted the late Alan Harding’s just remark remark that the work ‘one of [the] most penetrating studies yet produced of any period of Scottish legal history’.

Though Common Law and Feudal Society is work of immense importance, Professor MacQueen has written other penetrating studies of medieval Scots law in chapters, essays and articles in which he has reframed and reformed our understanding of medieval Scots law through profound reflection and research. I have not checked the number, but the majority of these have now been gathered, some revised, in the new book.

This new collection along with the published version of his thesis give the definitive account of law in medieval Scotland.



“Empire of Correspondence: Roman Imperial Letters as Literature and State Messaging, 31 B.C.E.–534 C.E.”, October 4–5 2024

The Board of the Roman Epistulae Project (Serena Connolly of Rutgers University-New Brunswick, Elsemieke Daalder of the University of Münster, Zachary Herz of the University of Colorado-Boulder, and Matthijs Wibier of the University of Cincinnati) invites submitted abstracts for a conference entitled “Empire of Correspondence: Roman Imperial Letters as Literature and State Messaging, 31 B.C.E.–534 C.E.” to be held in Boulder, CO on October 4–5 2024.

Conference Description:

Roman emperors used correspondence not only to administer one of the largest territorial empires in the history of the world, but also to generate a widely-distributed and -consumed chronicle of their affect and moral reasoning. At the same time, recipients deployed these letters as trump cards in smaller-scale local conflicts, building blocks of a nascent system of positive law, and relics commemorating brushes with a god. These letters performed several different roles simultaneously within Roman social and political life, but contemporary scholarship has generally considered them narrowly, as part of the histories of specific political and social institutions like ‘Roman law.’ Empire of Correspondence seeks to bring together humanists from different regions and disciplines to think about the role of imperial correspondence in constituting Roman society, and accordingly in developing ideas of sovereignty and fairness that would animate centuries of European political thought.

Accordingly, the Board welcomes submissions on the roles played by imperial correspondence in social and political life during the Roman imperial period, including but not limited to the following sorts of research questions:

How did imperial replies function in the context of smaller-scale local disputes, and how does this reception process change over time and place?

-What made imperial correspondence so meaningful to its recipients, and what did this correspondence do to inform popular conceptions of a responsive or engaged imperial presence?

-Do changes in the infrastructure governing the production and dissemination of imperial letters affect their social afterlives? 

Thanks to the generous support of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), funding is available for speaker travel and accommodation; the Board anticipates publishing conference proceedings. Keynote addresses will be delivered by Clifford Ando of the University of Chicago (title TBD) and by Serena Connolly (“Fergus Millar’s ‘Treasure House’”). Interested presenters should e-mail a curriculum vitae and an abstract of no more than 500 words to empireofcorrespondence@gmail.com by January 1, 2024. All inquiries may be addressed to Zachary Herz, at the above address or at zachary.herz@colorado.edu. Please feel free to forward widely; we welcome submissions from graduate students and early-career researchers, and from a variety of disciplinary homes. Thank you for your consideration,

Inaugural Lecture of Professor Carsten Fischer

Readers of this blog may be interested in the Inaugural Lecture of Professor Carsten Fischer of Trier. After studying at Munster, while working on his doctorate Professor spent time researching in Edinburgh. He gained his doctorate under Professor Andreas Thier at Zurich, and his Habilitation at Cologne. His thesis was entitled Schildgeld und Heersteuer. Eine vergleichende Studie zur Entwicklung lehnsrechtlicher Strukturen durch die Umwandlung vasallitischer Kriegsdienste in Geldabgaben im normannisch-frühangevinischen England und staufischen Reich. His Inaugural Lecture is entitled: “In England’s Green and Pleasant Land”? Das englische Recht im Blick der deutschen Rechtswissenschaft (18.-20. Jh)”. This is a rich and intriguing topic. 

Professor Fischer will give his lecture at 16.00 on 1 Dec. 2023 in HS 6 of the Faculty of Law in the Univeristy of Trier.

Stair Society Lecture 22 Nov. 2023

This year’s annual lecture to the Stair Society will be given by Professor Catharine MacMillan of King’s College London. Professor MacMillan is an Honorary Professor In Edinburgh. Her topic is “Making the Imperial Tribunal more truly imperial in its constitution: the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council and colonial judges”. She will discuss the rather under-researched issue of the the functioning of the Judicial Committee as an imperial court, and, in particular, the composition of that tribunal with the
inclusion of Dominion and colonial judges. 

American Society for Legal History, Philadelphia, PA, 26-28 October 2023

It is perhaps still worth alerting readers to the American Society for Legal History Conference in Philadelphia. It is many years since your blogger was last in Philadelphia, a city which holds many fond memories for him. It his also many years since he was last at the ASLH Conference; the last he attended was that in Baltimore, as long ago as 2006. The ASLH has always been a relatively intimate conference, making attendance worthwhile.

This year’s looks to be of considerable interest. While there is an understandable focus on certain topics currently of interest in the U.S.A., there is truly something for everyone, with medieval, early modern, Latin-American and even Roman law being discussed in the typical packed programme with many parallel sessions.

Details may be found here


Scottish Legal History Group 2023

The Scottish Legal History Group will meet on Saturday 14th October in the Advocates Reading Room, Parliament House, Edinburgh.


10am – Coffee
10.30am – Professor Joanna Kopaczyk (Glasgow): Burgh laws in transmission from manuscript to print: A philological perspective
11.15am – Dr Alastair Mann (Stirling): The rise and fall of the executive branch: the Scottish Privy Council from the Revolution to 1708
12 noon – Mr Brandon Clydesdale (Edinburgh): ‘To unite philosophy and history with jurisprudence’: a sketch on the contribution by the advocate Sir John Dalrymple to the Science of Legislation of the Scottish Enlightenment
12.45pm – Break for refreshments
2.30pm – AGM
2.50pm – Dr Alice Krzanich (Aberdeen): Historical Master-Servant Law in Scotland: An Example of Status to Contract?
3.35pm – Professor Ewen Cameron (Edinburgh): The Scottish Universities and the British State since 1889
4.20pm – Close


This year, the conference fee will be £10, or £5 for students. Cheques should be made out to “The Scottish Legal History Group”, and can be posted to the following address:


Scottish Legal History Group

c/o Professor Andrew Simpson

School of Law,

Taylor Building,

University of Aberdeen

AB24 3UB

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