Universiteit Leiden

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Legal History


Enduring influence of Roman law

Our research in legal history is mainly focused on the enduring influence of Roman law. This should come as no surprise, considering that European legal celebrities such as Hugo Donellus, Arnold Vinnius, Johannes Voet and Gerard Noodt taught Roman law at Leiden.

One of our main research interests is the influence of Roman legal constructions and ideas over the very long term (longue durée). Another is the functioning of Roman law in the social context of the Roman Empire. In addition, the Leiden approach is historically characterised by attention to the influence of Medieval lawyers on the development of a ius commune, for which the department can profit from an excellent library.

The staff of the Department of Legal History participate in several research programmes. The following research themes deserve special mention:

  • The social and economic context of classical Roman Law, with specific attention to subjects such as slavery, citizenship, and imperial adjudication.
  • Roman Law as a foundation of Europan legal systems.
  • The reception, study and application of Roman law in the Middle Ages and the Roman-Dutch law of the 17th and 18th century.
  • The comparative legal history of European private law, and the law of property in particular.
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