The English Legal Imaginary, Part II: St Andrews Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Law and literature

The Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Law and Literature at the University of St Andrews is hosting the Conference,  “The English Legal Imaginary, Part II”, 1-2 May, 2015, taking place in the School of English. This will follow on from Part I, held at Princeton University, New Jersey, on 17-18 April (for which see

These conferences will involve leading scholars working at the intersections of law, politics, literature and history in early modern England. The conference papers will contribute to the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of English Law and Literature, 1500-1700. Topics include: Roman law and common law; law and drama; law and education; equity, legal reform and literary censorship.

There is really no need to inform readers of this Blog of the importance of the topic nor of the exciting nature of the publications that will result. Those who work on Ancient Law and Society or on the history of Scots law are well aware of the importance of these intersections as constituting an important field of research.

Speakers at St Andrews will include: Martin Butler, Bradin Cormack, Alan Cromartie, Steve Hindle; Rab Houston, Lorna Hutson, David Ibbetson, James McBain, Subha Mukherji, Joad Raymond, Carolyn Sale, James Sharpe, Erica Sheen, Quentin Skinner, Virginia Lee Strain, Elliott Visconsi, Ian Williams, Jessica Winston, and Andrew Zurcher.

The registration fees for this conference are: £30 for students and unwaged, and £40 for waged participants. This fee covers lunch and coffee/tea breaks on both days, in addition to the conference dinner on Friday 1, and the closing wine and cheese reception on Saturday 2 May.

This Blog is advised that places are limited, so early registration is important. Only those who are registered will be admitted to the conference; there are no drop-in sessions.

See further:


Call for Papers

Call for Papers: Using the past: Romanists, totalitarianism and its legacy
Rome, 22-23 October, 2015.
Villa Lante al Gianicolo, Institutum Romanum Finlandiae

Deadline: May 2, 2015.

The purpose of the project “Reinventing the foundations of European
Legal Culture 1934-1964” ( is to trace the genealogy of the
idea of a common European legal past, its creation, influence and
implications of the theory as an ideological project.

After the two previous events, the first one in Helsinki, in May 2014,
and the second one in Frankfurt am Main, in June 2015, the research
group is organizing a workshop in Rome on the problematic relationship
between history of law and, in particular, Roman law scholars, and the
dictatorial or totalitarian regimes, especially with regard to the
Italian and German ones. We therefore invite papers that explore the
approach of Romanists towards the regime and the influence it had on
their studies. If and to what extent the works of scholars may be
considered as a reaction against the dictatorial power, or means to
support it. The papers may analyze the repercussions that the study of
Roman Law under the regimes had on the Law in force at the time and the
influence it exercised on the later scholars, also with regard to the
foundation of a new idea of European common legal culture.

Confirmed keynote speakers are Lorena Atzeri (Università Statale,
Milano), Cosimo Cascione (Università Federico II, Napoli), Mario Varvaro
(Università di Palermo).

Potential themes include, but are not limited to:
– idealization of Rome and its history and its implications;
– the influence of political circumstances and the experiences in Roman
law scholarship;
– the different narratives of ancient Roman law proposed by the Italian
Romanists, in order either to support, or to criticize Fascism;
– Roman Law in Italy between the regime and the new “Codice civile” of 1942;
– the roots of the new European legal history as a reaction to the
totalitarian past;
– differences between German and Italian Roman law doctrine in
perceiving the role of Roman law and their approach towards the regimes;
– different interpretations of Roman law as a foundation of a new idea
of Europe.

The conference is organized by the FoundLaw project, funded by the
European Research Council.

Please submit your abstract (300 words), in English, as a (word/pdf)
file to Heta Björklund at foundlaw(a) Please include your
name, academic affiliation and address in your email. The deadline for
submission of abstracts is May 2, 2015. We will inform of the selections
by the end of May.

The language of the meeting is English. There is no registration fee.
The organizers are unfortunately unable to aid in the travel
arrangements or accommodation of participants.

Sir John Baker: Magna Carta, lecture at St Andrews

On 2 April, 2015, Sir John Baker will deliver a lecture at the University of St Andrews under the auspices of the Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Law and Literature. The lecture is open to the public.

Magna Carta has had an immense influence on hearts and minds, and even events, over the last eight hundred years. Yet it is not always understood that this has been achieved more by magic than by operation of positive law. Much of the text was obsolete or obsolescent five hundred years ago, and what remained was difficult even for the lawyers of those days to interpret. In any case, no remedies were provided for private subjects in case the words were not observed by the king. The lecture will address some of these legal difficulties and outline how and when they were overcome.


Emanuele Conte: Alan Watson Seminar

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The Second Alan Watson Seminar was given by Professor Emanuele Conte of the Università degli Studi Roma Tre. Professor Conte’s title was “Legal Arguments. Medieval Origins of a European Invention”. In a rich and nuanced paper, Professor Conte emphasised the importance of  procedure to the first medieval Roman jurists, focusing initially on the work of Bulgarus,  his discussion of iudicium, and the opinion of law as what can be used before a public tribunal. Professor Conte discussed the Vulgate reading of D. 50.17.1 that allowed for the creative development of legal rules and argument, as well as reflecting on the work of Pierre de Blois and Pillius in developing his theme.

The first Alan Watson Seminar was given on 2 May 2014 by Dr Xavier Prévost, now Professor of Legal History at Bordeaux. Professor Prévost’s paper will appear as a chapter in J.W. Cairns and P. du Plessis (eds), Reassessing Legal Humanism and Its Claims: Petere Fontes?, Edinburgh 2015 (forthcoming).

Tucker Lecture 2015; Louisiana State University, Center for Civil Law Studies

Esin Örücü, Professor Emeritus of Comparative Law at the University of Glasgow, as well as Professor Emeritus of Comparative Law, Erasmus University, Rotterdam, and one of the world’s most distinguished scholars of Comparative Law, delivered the Tucker Lecture on 17 March 2015, at the Centre for Civil Law Studies at the Paul M. Hebert Law Center of the Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. Her title was: “One into Three: Spreading the Word Three into One: Creating a Civil Law System.” Professor Örücü explored the significance of translations, starting by looking at some general concerns such as language, culture, transpositions, neologisms, equivalence, mistranslations and then moving on to illustrating these issues through the experience of Turkey with her process of total and global modernization, westernization, secularization, democratization and constitutionalism.  The lecture then dealt with the translation into Turkish from the already-trilingual Swiss Civil Code, seemingly a “three into one” case, though only the French version was used by the Turkish translators. This was defined as “creating a civil law system,” converting within the span of five years, via five Codes, the efforts of reform resting solely on import and translation from major continental Codes both as to form and content, creating a civilian legal system out of a mixed one. Finally, she posed a crucial question related to all translated codes: why translate a code? Various aims and reasons were analysed.

esinesin  Photos courtesy Georgia Chadwick, LSU Centre for Civil Law Studies, and University of Glasgow


Call for Papers – Southern African Society of Legal History Conference 2015



The Southern African Society of Legal Historians will be presenting a conference from 05 to 09 October 2015.
Theme: “Legislation in the Western legal tradition”. This topic provides scope for reflection on a wide range of subjects in legal-historical discourse.

The conference will take place at Sun City which is close to Johannesburg, Pretoria and the OR Tambo International Airport.

Details here: SASLH_Conference_October_2015%201

Valedictory Lecture: Professor Emeritus Dr Dr (hc) Laurens Winkel

The retirement of a distinguished colleague at the height of his powers could seem a misfortune; but, in fact, it raises hope that, freed from the increasing managerial trivia of modern academic life, more time is left to the colleague for future research and travel. On 10 October 2014, the capitis minutio of our colleague Laurens Winkel to the freer status of Professor Emeritus at the Erasmus University of Rotterdam was marked by a symposium in his honour entitled “The Many Faces of Legal History”, after which there was lunch, to be followed at 16.15 by a Valedictory Lecture entitled “Themis and Clio Revisited”.

Celebrations started the night before with a dinner for the speakers at the Symposium organized by Tammo Wallinga of Rotterdam and Antwerp. As well as the symposiasts of the next day, the guests included your Blogger. It was held at the splendid Hotel New York in Rotterdam, based in the former buildings of the Holland America Line, which could be viewed across the busy river Nieuwe Maas from the hotel on the Willemskade where many of us were staying. We had the excitement of the trip to and from dinner by water taxi.

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A pleasant evening was had by all.


The next day the Symposium began. It was chaired by Professor W.J. Veraart of the Free University of Amsterdam, one of Laurens’ pupils. The first two speakers were Professor Xavier Prévost, now of the University of Bordeaux, who spoke of the work carried out by Jacques Cujas on the  palingenesia of Roman jurists and its significance. Laurens had been one of the examiner’s of Professor Prévost’s important thesis. Dr Paul du Plessis of this University and Blog, and one of Laurens’ doctoral pupils, then spoke on cursing and suing, a paper based on study of lead curses recently discovered in Bath, putting them into legal context and explaining their significance in a possibly plural legal system – a particularly impressive perfromance. Dr Jacob Giltaij of Helsinki, another of Laurens’ doctoral students, then gave an imaginative and convincing paper about the context of Fritz Schulz’ Principles of Roman Law, teasing out its political significance as an anti-Nazi text. All three provoked discussion and raised probing – if gently put – questions from the honorand. These three outstanding papers set a high standard for the rest.

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The high standard symposium continued after coffee. Dr Emese von Bóné of Rotterdam, the first of the home team, presented an “Amuse”, in which she explored the Roman legal and historical context of Mozart’s “La Clemenza di Tito”. This brought together Laurens’ love of music and Roman law. Javier Rodrigues Diez of Santiago de Chile, currently Laurens’ doctoral student, then discussed the continuingly fascinating topic of objective good faith, rather wonderfully using little Lego figures. The final paper was by Tammo Wallinga, professor at Antwerp and teacher in Rotterdam, discussing the importance of the editing of texts as the foundation of legal scholarship, using the appropriate title “Ad Fontes”. Laurens again had a friendly and gracious word for each.

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The symposium then moved to a presentation, with Professor Veraart again taking the floor. In an amusing and affectionate speech, he introduced a Festchrift prepared in Laurens’ honour, a special issue of Ars Aequi, entitled, Recht & Chaos. It contained a number of photographs of Laurens’ office; if they were meant to illustrate chaos, they did not seem to do so to this Blogger, whose office is even more apparently disorganized. But Professor Veraart spoke graciously and Larens responded in like vein. Laurens then presented gifts of pens to those who had spoken.

DSCN0214DSCN0217DSCN0215DSCN0216 Lunch followed. After which your blogger and some friends went and sought out some of the beer specially brewed for autumn.

DSCN0218 DSCN0220 DSCN0221 Lunch and beer (for a true symposium)

At four o’clock the formal ceremony began. Professors robed and then formed into a procession led by the bedellus with the mace led by Laurens and the Dean into the aula magna of the University. Such is the affection and esteem in which Laurens is held, this was the largest such procession your Blogger has ever seen. The Dean introduced him, and then Laurens spoke eruditely and amusingly on his theme of the importance of legal history. The Dean then gave an account of Laurens’ career, and others also spoke in his praise. He was also presented by his colleagues with a volume entitled  (in Dutch), Useful, but Important: Sayings in Law for Laurens Winkel.

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A reception followed for the huge crowd.

In the evening Laurens hosted a dinner at the Royal Maas Yacht Club, splendidly situated on the Nieuwe Maas in central Rotterdam. Again this was an elegant event with affectionate speeches, including one by Laurens’ own Doktorvater, Professor Emeritus Hans Ankum, and also one by his partner, Peter. He was presented with a whimsical portrait of himself floating over Rotterdam in his Edinburgh doctoral robes.




In all, a dear friend was suitably honoured and suitably honoured his guests.

Laurens had declared that he did not want a Festschrift. Not only did that modest remark remind individuals that he deserved one, it was also very wisely ignored. We have seen he was presented with a special issue of Ars Aequi. Early in September, he had been presented with another Festschrift in Naples at the international Roman Law conference, the Société Internationale pour l’Histoire des Droits de l’Antiquité. Such is Laurens’ reputation, and the love people bear him, there were over 90 contributors and it reached two volumes. Entitled Meditationes de iure et historia: Essays in honour of Laurens Winkel it was edited by Rena van Bergh et al. Finally there was the presentation of the volume at his lecture. A true measure of a professor is the esteem and affection of his colleagues and the love of his pupils. Laurens is eminently blessed with both.


A Question of Time: Trix van Erp.

On 12 September, 2014, this blogger had the good fortune to attend the valedictory lecture of Beatrix van Erp-Jacobs to mark her retirement from the Chair of Oud-Vaderlands Recht (Dutch Legal History) at Tilburg University. Professor van Erp is a prolific and leading historian of Dutch law, particularly that of the old Duchy of Brabant, though she has a broad range. It was an excellent event, starting with an academic procession into the aula magna of the University with the Rector Magnificus and professors of legal history from around Europe dressed in their various robes.


Led by the bedellus with the mace, it made a splendid impression. Professor van Erp then delivered a thoughtful oration, entitled “Een kwestie van tijd” ranging over various topics that reflected her career and scholarship. After her lecture, there were a number of affectionate tributes, including one from the Dean, Professor Prins, reviewing Professor van Erp’s career, with illustrations, and a highly amusing one from Professor Randall Lesaffer.

After this, Professor van Erp was presented with the Festschrift in her honour entitled, Ad fontes: liber Amicorum prof. Beatrix van Erp-Jacob, published by Wolf Legal Publishers, Oisterwijk

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After an elegant reception in the University there was a wonderful party with a reception in the garden, followed by an excellent dinner at the at the Bos & Ven Mansion Hotel in Oisterwijk.


During the dinner there was a performance by the Troeba Trio (, whom readers of this blog may recall also performed at the retirement of Olga Tellegen in December 2013. In all an excellent and enjoyable event, worthy of such a distinguished scholar.

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The Fourth Worldwide Congress of The World Society of Mixed Jurisdiction Jurists McGill University Faculty of Law, Montreal, Canada June 24-26, 2015

“The Scholar, Teacher, Judge, and Jurist in a Mixed Jurisdiction”

The World Society of Mixed Jurisdiction Jurists is pleased to announce a Fourth Worldwide Congress to be held at McGill University’s Faculty of Law (Montreal, Canada) from an opening evening reception and lecture on 24 June through 26 June 2015. The theme of the Congress will be “The Scholar, Teacher, Judge and Jurist in a Mixed Jurisdiction.”
Mixed Jurisdictions, as they are traditionally understood, stand at the crossroads of the Common law and Civil law. They also frequently encompass other ethnic and religious laws. Rich in legal history and complex pluralism, they are often seen as natural laboratories of comparative law.
The laws, methods, and institutions of mixed jurisdictions are inevitably affected by the influence and presence of different traditions vying for supremacy or requiring reconciliation. Their added complexity places special demands upon the training of judges and jurists, the staffing of courts, the teaching of private law, the research of scholars, and the task of law reform. To what extent have these challenges been met by the actors and institutions of mixed jurisdictions?
We propose to investigate these issues.
Proposals for papers on any topic related to mixed legal systems are welcome. They may be submitted by jurists from any jurisdiction, and by members and non-members of the Society alike. Proposals should be submitted to WSMJJ General Secretary Seán Patrick Donlan ( by 15 October 2014. They should not exceed 500 words and should be accompanied by a curriculum vitae of one page only. The time allocated for delivery of papers will be no longer than 20 minutes. Papers delivered at the conference will be considered for publication.
The Society regrets that it cannot cover travel expenses of participants in the Congress.
Please reserve the date.

Stair Society Annual Lecture 2014

The Stair Society’s 2014 Annual Lecture and Annual General Meeting will be held in the Faculty of Advocates’ MacKenzie Building in Edinburgh on Saturday 15 November 2014.

The Speaker will be Professor Alain Wijffels and his title will be ‘England and the German Hanse: The Long Endgame (1474-1604)’.

Professor Wijffels, Dr. jur. (Amsterdam), PhD (Cantab.), DLitt (Cantab.), graduated in philosophy, law, criminology, canon law, Roman law and medieval history. After several years of academic research, mainly in Italy, Germany and England, he is now working and teaching at universities in Belgium (Leuven/Kortrijk/Louvain-la-Neuve), France (Lille-2/CNRS) and Holland (Leiden). He teaches legal history, comparative law and legal English. He has published some two hundred studies, mostly contributions to legal history. His main area of interest is comparative legal history, particularly in the area of public governance and the courts’ practice in several Western European legal systems, with an emphasis on the structure and workings of complex jurisdictions.

The meeting and address will be followed by lunch for members and their guests.

Membership of the Society is open to all with an interest in the history of Scots law. Find out about Stair Society Membership and its benefits here: Membership of the Stair Society.

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