Jean-Louis Halpérin: Medal CNRS

It is a pleasure to see that our distinguished colleague, Jean-Louis Halpérin, has been awarded the silver medal of the CNRSS. Professor Halpérin is a truly outstanding scholar, both creative in his own work, as well a great facilitator and encourager of the work of others. These medals are awarded for the importance, quality and originality of the work of the recipients. Professor Halpérin has gained his in “Sciences du Droit”. He is professor of law at the Ecole normale supérieure as well as Director of the Centre de Théorie et Analyse du Droit at Université Paris Nanterre. See medallists.

From his early work on the Revolutionary through to the Napoleonic period, Professor Halpérin has been at the forefront of legal-historical scholarship. In recent years he has been a major developer of ideas of global legal history.

From an Edinburgh perspective, it is worth noting that Professor Halpérin delivered the peter Chiene Lecture in 2015. See here

Dicey + 100

In 2022, the anniversary of the death of Albert Venn Dicey, the University of Oxford held a commemorative conference at All Souls that in part reassessed his legacy and explored hitherto under-researched aspects of his life and oeuvre. Revised versions of the papers given have now been published by Intersentia, edited by the organisers, Andrew Dickinson, Timothy Endicott, and Wolfgang Ernst. Given that your blogger was one of the contributors, discussing Dicey’s teaching at Oxford, this is not the place for a review. But one hopes the volume will encourage further research, as one realises that in some ways Dicey is so familiar that he has become ignored and in some ways unknown. He exists only as a kind of caricature, not as a scholar and a man in a rounded picture. This is so despite, for example, the relatively recent, excellent, biography by Mark Walters, who has contributed a chapter here. But it is important to remember that Dicey’s work on Private International law is still being printed in new editions, primarily for the use of legal practitioners, while his work on the Law of the Constitution is available in a variety of editions, as well as in the Oxford Edition of Dicey edited by J. W. F. Allison.


The Dicey 100 + consists of:


Part I. Dicey in is Time and Our Time

“Dicey at Oxford”, John W. Cairns

“Dicey on Higher and Legal Education”, Andrew Dickinson

Dicey and Analytical Jurisprudence”, Timothy Endicott

Part II. Dicey and the Constitution

“Dicey’s Forgotten Constitution”, Alison L. Young

Dicey on Legality and Equality”, Mark D. Walters

“Dicey, Parliamentary Sovereignty, and the Principle of Legality”, Hasan Dingier

Part III. Dicey and the Conflict of Laws

“Dicey’s Conflict of Laws Then and Now”, Lord Collins of Mapesbury 

“Reading Dicey’s Private International Law in the Penumbra: Empire and Gender”, Roxana Banu

Part IV Dicey and Political Thought

“Dicey’s Idea of the Rule of Law in Historical Context”, James Kirby

“Wordsworth and Dicey: Poet as Political Prophet”, Sally Bushell

“Revolution and the Rule of Law: Dicey on Irish Home Rule”, Marc Mulholland





Ph.D. Opportunities in Legal History, University of St Andrews

Two fully funded PhD studentships are available at the University of St Andrews to work as part of the ERC-selected/UKRI-funded project ‘Communicating the Law in Europe, 1500-1750’, under the supervision of the Principal Investigator, Dr Arthur der Weduwen. The project investigates how law was communicated in early modern Europe (c. 1500-1750), and what impact this had on European society.

The PhD studentships will begin in September 2024, will be based in the School of History at the University of St Andrews (with significant periods to be spent on research abroad), and will last for four years. 

These PhD studentships offer the successful applicants the exciting prospect of combining the pursuit of an independently researched thesis exploring a particular dimension of legal and political communication in early modern Europe with the opportunity to work collaboratively within a research team and to contribute to co-authored publications and the organisation of scholarly conferences.

The ‘Communicating the Law in Europe, 1500-1750’ project has been awarded a grant of €1.4 million by the European Research Council and is funded as part of the UKRI’s Frontier Research Guarantee scheme.  It will run for five years, from 1 January 2024 to 31 December 2028, and is led by the Principal Investigator, Dr Arthur der Weduwen.

The COMLAWEU project is the first to investigate comparatively how law was communicated to citizens and subjects by the authorities in early modern Europe (1500-1750). It pursues an original comparative study of the publication and circulation of municipal, regional and national law, encompassing oral communication, ceremonial proclamations and the employment of criers, as well as the affixing, distribution and sale of law texts, in manuscript and printed form.

Based on extensive archival research, this project will seek to establish for the first time to what extent the increasing body of law that was issued in early modern Europe was made publicly available, and in what forms.

The project seeks to add a new and much-needed perspective to the study of European politics in a critical era of state formation, framing the communication of law as an essential stabilising factor in an era of highly participatory but undemocratic politics.

This project will offer multiple comparative frameworks through which the communication of law will be studied, including Protestant and Catholic states, urban and rural areas, and empires, national kingdoms and city-states.

With the aid of such a comparative lens, it is an overarching aim of the project to analyse how the public dissemination of law shaped early modern civic society and influenced political participation and accountability.

The project team, led by the PI and comprising two postdoctoral research assistants and two PhD students, will work collaboratively, using a series of comparative case studies based on European regions to explore and reveal the complex ways in which European authorities communicated with their citizens and subjects.

Further details about this opportunity can be found on the School of History postgraduate funding page.

Turin Humanities Programme Post-Doc: Slavery and Serfdom

Call for Applications: Turin Humanities Programme 2024-2026, “Slavery and Serfdom in Europe and the New World: Debates in the Early Modern Period”

“Slavery and Serfdom in Europe and the New World: Debates in the Early Modern Period”

Fondazione 1563 per l’Arte e la Cultura della Compagnia di San Paolo (hereinafter “Fondazione 1563”) has since 2013 supported research and advanced training in the field of the humanities.

In a wider effort to pursue this goal, in 2020 Fondazione 1563 has launched the Turin Humanities Programme, a research initiative that allows junior scholars to work on interrelated research projects under the guidance of especially appointed Senior Fellows.

THP aims at promoting two-year research projects about relevant global history topics. Fondazione 1563 is now pleased to launch the fourth call for applications to award up to 4 two-year fellowships for advanced studies on Slavery and Serfdom in Europe and the New World: Debates in the Early Modern Period.

The Director of Studies for this programme (2024-2026) will be Nicholas Cronk, Director of the Voltaire Foundation, Professor of European Enlightenment Studies, and Fellow of St Edmund Hall at the University of Oxford.

For information and questions please email:

Applicants are invited to submit research projects of a maximum of 3000 words, plus bibliography. Projects are expected to engage with one or more aspects of the general research framework Slavery and Serfdom in Europe and the New World: Debates in the Early Modern Period.

Candidates are invited to propose projects dealing with the questions surrounding slavery and serfdom in Europe and the New World within the timeframe of the Early Modern period, defined here broadly as stretching from the sixteenth century to the beginning of the nineteenth.

See further:

Call for Applications: Turin Humanities Programme 2024-2026, “Slavery and Serfdom in Europe and the New World: Debates in the Early Modern Period” – Voltaire Foundation (

The deadline for applications is February 12th, 2024, 11:00 PM (CET).

Roundtable: Lorren Eldridge, Law and the Medieval Village Community, 26 Jan. 2024

This event is a book launch to celebrate Dr. Lorren Eldridge’s recent monograph on village communities in medieval law. It is a panel discussion involving the author, Professor Michael Lobban, All Souls Oxford, and Professor Gwen Seabourne, Bristol University.

This book expands on established doctrine in legal history and sets out a challenge for legal philosophers. The English medieval village community offers a historical and philosophical lens on the concept of custom which challenges accepted notions of what law is.

The book traces the study of the medieval village community from early historical works in the nineteenth century through to current research. It demonstrates that some law-making can and has been ‘bottom-up’ in English law, with community-led decision-making having a particularly important role in the early common law. The detailed consideration of law in the English village community reveals alternative ways of making and conceiving of law which are not dependent on state authority, particularly in relation to customary and communal property rights. Acknowledging this poses challenges for legal theory: the legal positivism that dominates Western legal philosophy tends to reject custom as a source of law. However, this book argues that medieval customary law ought to be considered ‘law’ if we are ever going to fully understand law – both then and now.

The book will be a valuable resource for researchers and academics working in the areas of Legal History, Legal Theory, and Jurisprudence.

Venue: Teaching Room 02, Old College

Register to attend in Person: Register to attend in person

Law and the Medieval Village Community book cover by Lorren Eldridge

Abry, Consensualism in Contract

The Centre for Legal History is delighted to note the recent publication by Springer of The Construction, Sources, and Implications of Consensualism in Contract: Lesson from France ‘s by our graduate Kane Abry. This book has arisen out of Kane’s excellent Ph.D. thesis. 

It has appeared as volume 27 in Springer’s series, Studies in the history of Law and Justice. It is a sophisticated study of the topic, ranging widely  and perceptively,

Arguing over Empire: Hugo Grotius, European Expansionism and Slavery: Call for Papers

Location: University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam Law Hub

Date: June 7th 2024

Key-note: Prof. John Cairns (University of Edinburgh)

Workshop Theme

The workshop ‘Arguing over Empire: Hugo Grotius, European Expansionism and Slavery’ is part of a series of conferences organized by the Grotiana Foundation preceding the celebration in 2025 of the 400thanniversary of Grotius’ opus magnum On the Law of War and Peace (De iure belli ac pacis) published in 1625. Previous conferences in this series have dealt with, e.g., ‘Grotius’ Contribution to Commercial and Maritime Law’ and ‘Non-consequential theories of strict liability in historical perspective.’ The workshop is co-organized by the Paul Scholten Centre for Jurisprudence of the University of Amsterdam in cooperation with the Amsterdam Law Hub, with Grotiana, and with the ‘Servus-project’ funded by the NWO.

Hugo Grotius (1583-1645) is generally regarded as one of the ‘founding fathers of modern international law.’ However, he was also one of the early architects of Dutch colonial and imperial rule in the East Indies. Between 1604 and 1615, he served the Dutch East India Company (VOC) as a legal advisor and political lobbyist. In this capacity, he wrote memoranda and policy documents providing legal and political justifications for the Company’s commercial and military activities in monsoon Asia. In 1604, Grotius was commissioned by the VOC to write a treatise to defend the seizure of a Portuguese vessel off the coast of Johor (present-day Singapore). In the only published chapter of the treatise during his lifetime, titled The Free Sea (Mare Liberum), he argued that the Portuguese violated the natural rights of the Dutch by preventing them from sailing to the East Indies and engaging in trade with indigenous populations. As judicial recourse was lacking, even a private trading company such as the VOC could wage a ‘just war’ to enforce its natural rights. Grotian thinking about natural law, contracts and just war thus legitimized Dutch expansion overseas and the dispossession of the native.

Grotius’ On the Law of War and Peace is another case in point. Although the author was an exile in Paris by then, he relied on many years of practical experience as a VOC advisor and lobbyist in writing his magnum opus. In On the Law of War and Peace, he elaborates the views presented in On the Law of Prize and Booty by conceptualizing the natural rights to travel and free passage, the rights to settle in uninhabited lands and use natural resources, and the right to free trade between ‘persons at a distance’, invoked by Europeans to demand access to non-European markets and territories. On the Law of War and Peace also provides a legal justification of slavery as part of natural law and the law of nations. In the author’s view, those who are defeated in a just war can be enslaved under the law of nations, while human beings may also ‘voluntarily’ submit to slavery under natural law. Moreover, the children of the enslaved inherit the unfree status of their parents according to On the Law of War and Peace.

The aim of this workshop is to explore the many connections between Grotius’ thinking about natural law and the law of nations and his full-throated defense of European expansion overseas and slavery. We invite contributors to critically examine these connections by addressing the imperialist and colonialist readings of Grotius’ theory of natural rights, just war, property, unequal treaties and alliances, monopoly contracts, slavery, and the role of private actors (e.g., trading companies). We specifically welcome contributions that engage with the following questions:

  • What were non-European responses to, or engagement with, such imperialist and colonialist readings? For instance, how did East-Indian rulers receive and interpret, or indeed resist, Grotian conceptualizations of natural rights and (monopoly) contracts? Were alternative conceptualizations proposed to contest Grotius’ justification of slavery?
  • What was the relationship between the ‘Grotian tradition of international law’ and colonial practices in the early modern and modern eras? How were Grotian discourses of international law used to justify colonial warfare, native dispossession and slavery in the Americas, Asia and Africa between the 17th and 20th centuries? For instance, how did Grotian ideas about natural law, freedom of trade and humanitarianism (protecting the oppressed from inhumane treatment) contribute to justifying colonial warfare, and what role did private trading companies play in these wars?

In addressing questions like these, we seek to understand the ambivalent relation between, on the one hand, Grotius’ innovate contributions to international law and humanitarianism, and, on the other hand, the use of his concepts to justify (Western) colonialism and imperialism.


A paper proposal of max. 300 words should be sent to and The deadline for submissions is January 15th, 2024. Applicants will be notified by February 26th, 2024 whether their paper proposal has been accepted or not. The organizing committee will use two criteria in the selection of paper proposals: intellectual quality and potential fit with the workshop theme. The workshop is meant to be interdisciplinary and small-scale, allowing plenty of time for discussion and interaction. Available slots are limited. However, the committee’s aim is to invite speakers from diverse backgrounds (age, geography, gender, and career status).

The workshop takes place on location. Speakers who are unable to participate in person may do so online. Unfortunately, the organizing committee is not able to cover the costs of accommodation or travel. Selected speakers are requested to obtain funding themselves. Each speaker will be given a 30-minutes time slot, which includes 20 minutes for presentation and 10 minutes for questions and discussion. Our aim is to publish (revised versions of) the presented papers in a leading international journal related to Grotius, the history of international law, or the history of colonialism.

Organizing Committee

Inge Van Hulle (Leuven University and Max Planck Institute, Frankfurt am Main)

Martine van Ittersum (University of Dundee)

Jacob Giltaij (University of Amsterdam)

Jeroen Vervliet (Max Planck Institute, Luxembourg)

Marc de Wilde (University of Amsterdam)

Organisation: University of Amsterdam and others
Deadline: 15/01/2024

PhD Graduation

The Centre for Legal History is delighted to note that Matthew Cleary has graduated with his doctorate at the graduation ceremony of the Edinburgh Law School on 1 December 2023. The title of his thesis is “Testamentary Law in England, c. 1450-1540”. His primary supervisor was Dr Guido Rossi. Matthew is currently a Senior Research Fellow on the Heisenberg Project: Grotius Census Bibliography at the Max-Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International law at the University of Heidelberg. The December graduation is one when many research and masters students graduate because of the structure of the academic year. As often for the December graduation, it was a beautifully sunny but rather cold day. The photo shows Matthew in front of the McEwan Hall, the aula magna of Edinburgh University, completed in 1897, specially designed for graduation ceremonies, the gift to the University of Sir William McEwan. The Hall has a richly decorated interior and a wonderful organ. McEwan, a major beer magnate, was a politician and noted philanthropist. We congratulate Matthew.


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
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