PhD Fellowship in Legal History – Catholic University of Leuven

Project title: Humanist Jurisprudence and the Emergence of the Law of Nations

Full time – 4 years

Project description

The purpose of this research project is to analyse the contribution of the humanist jurists of the 16th century, in particular of the French School of Bourges, to the emerging jurisprudence of the law of nations up to Hugo Grotius. First, the ideas of the humanist jurists in relation to some central questions of war and peace will be mapped out. Second, these findings will be confronted with the late-medieval civilian jurisprudence so that it becomes possible to assess to what extent the humanist contribution to the law of nations was not only indebted to Antiquity, but also to the civilian tradition. Third, the impact of the humanist contribution on the great writers of the law of nations of the late 16th and early 17th centuries, in particular Gentili and Grotius, will be indicated.

Supervisor: Professor Randall Lesaffer, professor of legal and cultural history.

Eligibility and assignment

The candidate needs to be holder of Master's degree from a university and needs to have majored in law, history or classics. He/she needs an excellent command of English and a good passive knowledge of Latin, ancient Greek, French and preferably German, Italian or Spanish. Within 4 years, the successful candidate will have to write and defend a Ph D thesis at the Catholic University of Leuven. During this time, he/she will also publish on the field of the project in journals and books and convene an international conference on the subject at Leuven. For the project, the candidate will have to do research abroad, e.g. in Rome and Berkeley.

Other details and further information

The fellowship is sponsored by NOW, the Flemish Government's Foundation for Scientific Research and is assigned to the Department of Roman Law and Legal History at the Faculty of Law of the Catholic University of Leuven. The fellow will receive a monthly fee starting at 2.905,95 euro before taxes. For more information, please contact professor Randall Lesaffer (

Foundation of the Court of Session: The Court itself considers

It is worth noting that in Hepburn v Royal Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust [2010] CSIH 71 at paragraphs 14 & 15, Lord Hamilton, as Lord President, considered the statutes founding the College of Justice, and cited  the important new book of Mark Godfrey, Civil Justice in Renaissance Scotland: The Origins of a Central Court, Brill, 2009. The Lord President considered the older views of Hannay that the foundation was not really historically significant, juxtaposing them with the more modern view of Godfrey that what happenned was in many ways a new beginning. The Court went on to interpret the Acts of 1532 and 1541 on the Court's powers, raising interesting questions as to how such statutes should be approached in the modern world.

But this indicates the importance of Godfreys' book, and all readers of this Blog are heartily encouraged to read it and recommend it for their libraries:



Law as …: Theory and Method in Legal History – Conference UC Irvine 16-17 April, 2010

The blog has noticed a lot of recent interest in issues of methodology in legal history. This is always interesting, though too much navel gazing is not always helpful. The most recently advertised conference on this theme is entitled "Law As … ": Theory and Method, in Legal History, to take place April 16-17, 2010 at the University of California, Irvine with a  distinguished panel of speakers and a varied programme, including (without in any way wishing to denigrate the others) as a speaker Laura Edwards, who has recently published The People and Their Peace: Legal Culture and the Transformation of Inequality in the Post-revolutionary South (2009), a fascinating book that this blogger is currently reading and would strongly recommend. The programme is as follows:

APRIL 16, 2010

8:45-9 a.m.: Welcome and Introduction: Catherine Fisk (Law, UC Irvine)

Chair Dirk Hartog (History, Princeton)
9:00-10:45 a.m.: Presentation of Papers

Steven Wilf (Law, Connecticut), “Law/Text/Past”
Norman Spaulding (Law, Stanford), “On the Interdependence of Law, History and Memory”
Kunal Parker (Law, Miami), “Common Law Thought and the Problem of History”
Marianne Constable (Rhetoric, UC Berkeley), “‘In the Name of the Law’: Law as Claim to Justice”
10:45-11 a.m.: Short Break

11 a.m.-12:45 p.m.: Commentary and Discussion
Commentator: Christopher Tomlins (Law, UC Irvine)

12:45-1:30 p.m.: Lunch Break

Chair Ariela Gross (Law, USC)
1:30-3:15 p.m.: Presentation of Papers

Peter Goodrich (Law, Cardozo), “Specters of Law: Why the History of the Legal Spectacle has not been Written”
Shai Lavi (Law, Tel Aviv), “Law as World: Secular History and Jewish Ritual in Nineteenth Century Germany”
Assaf Likhovski (Law, UCLA and Tel Aviv), “Chasing Ghosts: On Writing Cultural History of Tax Law”
Roger Berkowitz (Political Studies & Human Rights, Bard College), “History and the Noble Art of Lying”
3:15-3:30 p.m.: Short Break

3:30-5:15: Commentary and Discussion
Commentator: John Comaroff (Anthropology, Chicago)


APRIL 17, 2010

Chair: Risa Goluboff (Law, Virginia)
9:00-10:45 a.m.: Presentation of Papers

Ritu Birla (History, Toronto), “Law as Economy: Convention, Corporation, Currency”
Roy Kreitner (Radcliffe Institute and Law, Tel Aviv), “Money in the 1890s: The Circulation of Law, Politics, and Economics”
Christopher Schmidt (Law, Chicago-Kent), “Conceptions of Law in the Civil Rights Movement”
Barbara Welke (History & Law, Minnesota), “Owning Hazard in the Modern American Consumer Marketplace”
10:45-11 a.m.: Short Break

11 a.m.-12:45 p.m.: Commentary and Discussion
Commentator: Morton Horwitz (Law, Harvard)

12:45-1:30 p.m.: Lunch Break

Chair Laura Kalman (History, UC Santa Barbara)
1:30-3:15 p.m.: Presentation of Papers

Laura Edwards (History, Duke), “The Peace: The Meaning and Production of Law in the Post-Revolutionary U.S.”
John Witt (Law, Yale), “Escape and Engagement: The Laws of War in the Early American Republic”
Paul Frymer (Politics, Princeton), “Building an American Empire: Territorial Expansion and Indian Removal, 1787-1850”
Mariana Valverde (Criminology Centre, Toronto) “‘The honour of the Crown is at stake’: Aboriginal Land Claims Litigation in Canada and the Epistemology of Sovereignty”
3:15-3:30 p.m.: Short Break

3:30-5:15 p.m.: Commentary and Discussion
Commentator: Robert W. Gordon (Law, Yale)

5:30-7 p.m.: Reception



The European Society for Comparative Legal History (ESCLH) is pleased to announce the creation of the Society, the launch of our blog, and our inaugural conference.

The ESCLH aims to promote comparative legal history and seeks affiliation with individuals and organisations with complementary aims. Our blog is intended to provide a site for discussion, the sharing of information, and a Register of Legal Historians (with research interests in any area of legal history).

The ESCLH inaugural conference, 'Law and Historical Development from a Comparative Perspective', will be held at the University of Valencia (Spain) on 5-6 July 2010. Presentations should be in English and are welcome on any topic in comparative legal history.

Those interested in making a presentation should email Dr Seán Patrick Donlan ( by Monday, 15 March 2010 with a short (250 word) proposal. Note that the conference fee is €100; transportation and accommodation are not included.

For additional information, please contact a member of the ESCLH Executive Committee:

Dr Seán Patrick Donlan (Limerick):

Professor Jan Hallebeek (VU University Amsterdam):

Professor Dirk Heirbaut (Ghent):

Professor Aniceto Masferrer (Valencia):

Professor Remco van Rhee (Maastricht):

Judah Benjamin: Lecture

One of the most fascinating figures in Louisiana legal history is Judah Benjamin. The LSE has a legal biography project of great importance: On 9 February Dr Catherine MacMillan will talk on Benjamin's English career.

His was a colourful life, born in Ste Croix a british subject,  becoming a lawyer in New Orleans, marrying a creole heiress, being the first Jewish member of the US Senate, becoming attorney general and then Secretary of State of the Confederacy, being indicted for conspracy to murder Lincoln! His Louisiana fortune lost, he hawidth=114d a successful career as an English barrister.

Morris L Cohen Student Essay Competition: legal history, rare books, legal archives

The Morris L. Cohen Student Essay Competition

The Legal History and Rare Books Section (LH&RB) of the American Association of Law Libraries, in cooperation with Gale Cengage Learning, announces the second annual Morris L. Cohen Student Essay Competition. The competition is named in honor of Morris L. Cohen, Professor Emeritus of Law at Yale Law School. Professor Cohen’s scholarly work is in the fields of legal research, rare books, and historical bibliography. The purpose of the competition is to encourage scholarship in the areas of legal history, rare law books, and legal archives, and to acquaint students with the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) and law librarianship.

Students currently enrolled in accredited graduate programs in library science, law, history, or related fields are eligible to enter the competition. Both full- and part-time students are eligible. Membership in AALL is not required.

Essays may be on any topic related to legal history, rare law books, or legal archives.

The entry form and instructions are available at the LH&RB website:

Entry form



Entries must be submitted by midnight, April 15, 2010. The winner will be announced by May 15.

The winner will receive a $500.00 prize from Gale Cengage Learning and up to $1,000 for expenses associated with attendance at the AALL Annual Meeting.The runner-up will have the opportunity to publish the second-place essay in LH&RB’s online scholarly journal Unbound: An Annual Review of Legal History and Rare Books.

Please direct questions to Jennie Meade at

For information on last year's winner, J. Benjamin Yousey-Hindes, click here.


Scottish Legal History Group

The annual conference and AGM of the SLHG took place on Saturday 3 October in the Advocates’ Reading Room, Parliament House, Edinburgh, and was well attended. The following papers were delivered: Cynthia Neville, “The Quality of Scottish Mercy: The Royal Pardon in Scotland, 1050-1603”; Jackson Armstrong, “The Administration of Royal Justice in the 1490s: The Earliest Scottish Ayre Records”; Thomas Green, “The New Cosnsitorial Order: Context and Constitutional Theories from 1559”; Clare Jackson and Patrica Glennie, “The Advocates’ Strike, 1674-1676”; John Finlay, “The Lords of Session, 1701-1801”. For furtherr information about the SLHG, please contact Dr Mark Godfrey, Secretary and Treasurer.

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