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Eisfeld, Jens

Ius commune, which in Latin means “common law,” means general law in the broadest sense. In a narrower sense, in continental Europe, it was and remains primarily Roman law, that is, the law set forth in the Corpus iuris civilis (the legal compilation commissioned by Emperor Justinian in the 6th

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Susanne Pohl-Zucker

In Making Manslaughter, Susanne Pohl-Zucker offers parallel studies that trace the legal settlement of homicide in the duchy of Württemberg and the imperial city of Zurich between 1376 and 1700. Killings committed by men during disputes were frequently resolved by extrajudicial agreements during the late Middle Ages. Around 1500, customary strategies of dispute settlement were integrated and modified within contexts of increasing legal centralization and, in Württemberg, negotiated with the growing influence of the ius commune. Legal practice was characterized by indeterminacy and openness: categories and procedures proved flexible, and judicial outcomes were produced by governmental policies aimed at the re-establishment of peace as well as by the strategies and goals of all disputants involved in a homicide case.

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Conquest and the Law in Swedish Livonia (ca. 1630–1710)

A Case of Legal Pluralism in Early Modern Europe

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Heikki Pihlajamäki

In Conquest and the Law in Swedish Livonia (ca. 1630-1710), Heikki Pihlajamäki offers an exciting account of the law and judiciary in seventeenth-century Livonia. Immediately after Sweden conquered the province in the 1620s, a reorganization of the Livonian judiciary began. Its legal order became largely modelled after Swedish law, which differed in important ways from its Livonian counterpart. While Livonian legal tradition was firmly anchored in the European ius commune, the conquerors’ law was, by nature, not founded in legal learning. The volume convincingly demonstrates how the differences in legal cultures decisively affected the way Livonian judicial and procedural systems were shaped. Based on archival sources, the study presents an important contribution to the comparative legal history of the early modern period.

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The Laws of Late Medieval Italy (1000-1500)

Foundations for a European Legal System

Mario Ascheri

In The Laws of Late Medieval Italy Mario Ascheri examines the features of the Italian legal world and explains why it should be regarded as a foundation for the future European continental system. The deep feuds among the Empire, the Churches unified by Roman papacy and the flourishing cities gave rise to very new legal ideas with the strong cooperation of the universities, beginning with that of Bologna. The teaching of Roman law and of the new papal laws, which quickly spread all over Europe, built up a professional group of lawyers and notaries which shaped the new, 'modern', public institutions, including efficient courts (like the Inquisition). Politically divided, Italy was partly unified by the legal system, so-called (Continental) common law (ius commune), which became a pattern for all of Europe onwards.
Early modern Europe had for long time to work with it, and parts of it are still alive as a common cultural heritage behind a new European law system.