The Company in Law and Practice: Did Size Matter? (Middle Ages-Nineteenth Century)


This volume brings together nine chapters by specialist legal historians that address the topic of the scale and size of companies, in both legal and economic history. The bundled texts cover different periods, from the Middle Ages, the Early Modern Period, to the nineteenth century. They analyse the historical development of basic features of present-day corporations and of other company types, among them the general and limited partnership. These features include limited liability and legal personality. A detailed overview is offered of how legal concepts and mercantile practice interacted, leading up to the corporate characteristics that are so important today.

Contributors are: Anja Amend-Traut, Luisa Brunori, Dave De ruysscher, Stefania Gialdroni, Ulla Kypta, Bart Lambert, Annamaria Monti, Carlos Petit, and Bram Van Hofstraeten.

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Dave De ruysscher, Ph.D. (2009), is Associate Professor at Tilburg University and at Vrije Universiteit Brussel. Being legal historian and lawyer, he specializes in the history of commercial and private law of the early modern period and the nineteenth century.

Albrecht Cordes is Professor of Medieval and Early Modern Legal History and Civil Law at the Goethe University Frankfurt/Main. His research is especially focused on the history of commercial law, Hanseatic legal history and the history of conflict resolution.

Serge Dauchy is Research Director at the CNRS (Lille-France) and Professor of Legal History at the University Saint-Louis of Brussels. His main research topics are the history of civil procedure, comparative history of central courts and the history of Québec.

Heikki Pihlajamäki is Professor of Comparative Legal History at the University of Helsinki. He has published extensively on the legal history of Scandinavia, Europe and America, including Conquest and the Law in Swedish Livonia (ca. 1630 – 1710): A Case of Legal Pluralism in Early Modern Europe (Brill, 2017).

''Overall, this collection shows the value of discussing concepts explicitly. It creates some much-needed clarity, and this is perhaps the best way of establishing differences and similarities for comparative legal and historical research.The volume’s contributions show the way that legal study, through its demand for precision in language and its definition and meaning, can inform business and economic history;it is a fruitful example of how legal history can be combined with business and economic history''. Victoria Barnes, in Legal History , 27 (2019), pp.322-324.
List of Figures and Tables

Dave De ruysscher, Albrecht Cordes, Serge Dauchy and Heikki Pihlajamäki

1 What is a Small Firm? Some Indications from the Business Organization of Late Medieval German Merchants
Ulla Kypta

2 Making Size Matter Less: Italian Firms and Merchant Guilds in Late Medieval Bruges
Bart Lambert

3 Late Scholasticism and Commercial Partnership: Persons and Capitals in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries
Luisa Brunori

4 Legal Structure of Early Enterprises—from Commenda-like Arrangements to Chartered Joint-Stock Companies (Early Modern Period)
Anja Amend-Traut

5 Delving for Diversity in Early Modern Company Law: Mining Companies in Seventeenth-Century Liège
Bram Van Hofstraeten

6 Incorporation and Limited Liability in Seventeenth-Century England: The Case of the East India Company
Stefania Gialdroni

7 From Commercial Guilds to Commercial Law: Spanish Company Regulations (1737–1848)
Carlos Petit

8 Partnerships as Flexible and Open-Purpose Entities: Legal and Commercial Practice in Nineteenth-Century Antwerp (c. 1830–c. 1850)
Dave De ruysscher

9 Form, Size, “Governance”: Remarks on Italian Late Nineteenth-Century Companies
Annamaria Monti

All interested in the institutional, legal and economic history of business organizations (firms, corporations).