Law and Empire

Ideas, Practices, Actors


Law and Empire provides a comparative view of legal practices in Asia and Europe, from Antiquity to the eighteenth century. It relates the main principles of legal thinking in Chinese, Islamic, and European contexts to practices of lawmaking and adjudication. In particular, it shows how legal procedure and legal thinking could be used in strikingly different ways. Rulers could use law effectively as an instrument of domination; legal specialists built their identity, livelihood and social status on their knowledge of law; and non-elites exploited the range of legal fora available to them. This volume shows the relevance of legal pluralism and the social relevance of litigation for premodern power structures.

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Jeroen Duindam is Professor of Early Modern History at the University of Leiden. His publications include Vienna and Versailles. The Courts of Europe's Dynastic Rivals (Cambridge, 2003); Myths of Power. Norbert Elias and the Early Modern European Court (Amsterdam, 1995).

Jill Harries is Professor of Ancient History at the University of St Andrews, Scotland. She is the author of books on Law and Empire in Late Antiquity (Cambridge, 1999), Cicero and the Jurists (London, 2006), Law and Crime in the Roman World (Cambridge, 2007) and Imperial Rome AD 284-363. The New Empire (Edinburgh, 2012), and articles on late antiquity and Roman legal culture.

Caroline Humfress is Reader in History at Birkbeck College, University of London. She is the author of Orthodoxy and the Courts in Late Antiquity (Oxford, 2007), as well as various essays and articles on legal history and religion.

Nimrod Hurvitz teaches at the Department of Middle Eastern Studies, Ben Gurion University of the Negev. His publications include The Formation of Hanbalism. Piety into Power (London, 2002) and "From Scholarly Circles to Mass Movements: the Formation of Legal Communities in Islamic Societies", The American Historical Review 108/4 (2003).
Notes on editors and contributors



Part I. Legal Authority and Imperial Frameworks

1 Polly Low, ‘Law, Authority and Legitimacy in the Athenian Empire’
2 Harries, Jill, ´Roman Law from City State to World Empire´
3 Karen Gottschang Turner, Laws, Bureaucrats, and Imperial Women in China’s Early Empires
4 Akarli, Engin: ‘The Ruler and Law Making in the Ottoman Empire’
5 Härter, Karl, ‘The Early Modern Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation (1495-1806): a Multi-layered Legal System’.

Part II. Institutionalising Empire: Practices of Lawmaking and Adjudication

6 Hurvitz, Nimrod, ‘The Contribution of Early Islamic Rulers to Adjudication and Legislation: the Case of the Mazalim Tribunals’
7 Rhijn, Carine van, ‘Charlemagne and the Government of the Frankish Countryside’
8 Królikowska, Natalia, ´The law factor in Ottoman- Crimean Tatar Relations in the Early Modern Period´
9 Guy, R. Kent, ‘Qing Imperial Justice? The Case of Li Shiyao’

Part III. Legal Pluralism in Empires: Encounters and Responses
10 Humfress, Caroline, ‘Thinking through legal pluralism: ‘Forum shopping’ in the Later Roman Empire
11 Hoppenbrouwers, Peter, ‘Leges Nationum and Ethnic Personality of Law in Charlemagne’s Empire’
12 Anastasopoulos, Antonios, ‘Non-Muslims and Ottoman Justice(s?)’
13 Murphy, Neil, ‘Royal Grace, Royal Punishment: Ceremonial Entries and the Pardoning of Criminals in France, c. 1440-1560’
14 Haar, Barend ter, ‘Divine violence to Uphold Moral Values. The Casebook of an Emperor Guan Temple in Hunan Province in 1851-1852’

The intended audience(s) for the volume include academic scholars in history, law (especially legal history) and religion, primarily in Europe and USA but with a broader marketing potential. Given that the volume offers cutting-edge scholarship, ranging from the ancient to modern periods in a set of fourteen clearly argued essays with a substantial introductory chapter, it should also appeal to postgraduate taught and postgraduate research students in both law and history faculties. Specific essays may also be included on upper level undergraduate reading lists.
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