Glossae. European Journal of Legal History 15 (2018): Comparative Legal History

Glossae. European Journal of Legal History 15 (2018): Comparative Legal History 


Beyond particular traditions:
Comparative Legal History

The papers published under this general title are the proceedings of the conference held on 12 May 2017 at the Collège de France. They were included in the programme of the College’s
European Chair 2016-2017. The contributors represent a range of legal scholars and
historians who have all written on issues of comparative legal history. They come from
different European legal traditions and have all extensive personal experience in researching
legal systems different from that of their own legal education. Several have left their native
country and teach permanently in a different European country. Their research therefore
reflects, for periods from the Middle Ages until Modern Times, how a legal culture can
incorporate and transcend the particular interests which have affected legal developments in
The contributors had been asked to address the question at the heart of the European Chair’s
central theme: How to apprehend a European legal culture? Legal history presents models of
common laws which assume particular legal traditions. Comparative law requires, in order to
be able to proceed to any comparison, an interface between distinct legal systems.
Comparative legal history endeavours to trace back how the interaction between different
social groups, in different polities which may partly overlap, has contributed to legal
developments, to some extent through the construction of so-called authoritative ‘sources’ of
the law. At all levels of political governance, the legal instruments produced and used by that
governance always have their own particular features. However intricate that public
governance may be, its particular character is always exposed to actors from different
systems of governance, whether within its own domestic jurisdiction or in the course of its
foreign relations. Comparative legal history makes it possible to recognise, in a long-term
historical perspective, shared foundations of normativity which prove necessary in order to
ensure that the interactions may be worked out in peaceful order.
Several contributions published in this issue were presented in a different language at the
2017 conference. Those by Emanuele Conte, Yves Mausen, Mia Korpiola, Luisa Brunori,
Luigi Lacché, and John Bell were originally delivered in French; those by Anja AmendTraut, Wolfgang Ernst, and Aniceto Masferrer in English. The proceedings follow the same
order in which they were presented at the conference, by and large based on their
chronological references.
The co-editor who held the European Chair wishes to thank all the contributors for their
valuable cooperation, and in particular his two colleagues who assisted him in preparing the
publications of the conference’s proceedings (not without going through the peer review
process). The editorial work which resulted in the publication of these proceedings was a
collaborative venture undertaken by the three co-editors and co-authors of the present
foreword – a foreword inviting the readers of Glossae to find in these proceedings some
encouragement and food for thought for their own research in the field of comparative legal

Luisa Brunori Aniceto Masferrer Alain Wijffels

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