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The law developed by the ancient Romans remains a powerful legal and political instrument today. In The Roman Law Tradition a general editorial introduction complements a series of more detailed essays by an international team of distinguished legal scholars exploring the various ways in which Roman law has affected and continues to affect patterns of legal decision-making throughout the world.
This social history of Byzantine law offers an introduction to one of the world's richest yet hitherto understudied legal traditions. In the first study of its kind, Chitwood explores and reinterprets the seminal legal-historical events of the Byzantine Empire under the Macedonian dynasty, including the re-appropriation and refashioning of the Justinianic legal corpus and the founding of a law school in Constantinople. During this last phase of Byzantine secular law, momentous changes in law and legal culture were underway: the patronage of the elite was reflected in the legal system, theological terms from Orthodox Christianity entered the vocabulary of Byzantine jurisprudence, and private legal collections of uncertain origins began to circulate in manuscripts alongside official redactions of Justinianic law. By using the heuristic device of exploring legal culture, this book examines the interplay in law between the Roman political heritage, Orthodox Christianity and Hellenic culture.
This unique publication offers a complete history of Roman law, from its early beginnings through to its resurgence in Europe where it was widely applied until the eighteenth century. Besides a detailed overview of the sources of Roman law, the book also includes sections on private and criminal law and procedure, with special attention given to those aspects of Roman law that have particular importance to today's lawyer. The last three chapters of the book offer an overview of the history of Roman law from the early Middle Ages to modern times and illustrate the way in which Roman law furnished the basis of contemporary civil law systems. In this part, special attention is given to the factors that warranted the revival and subsequent reception of Roman law as the ‘common law’ of Continental Europe. Combining the perspectives of legal history with those of social and political history, the book can be profitably read by students and scholars, as well as by general readers with an interest in ancient and early European legal history. The civil law tradition is the oldest legal tradition in the world today, embracing many legal systems currently in force in Continental Europe, Latin America and other parts of the world. Despite the considerable differences in the substantive laws of civil law countries, a fundamental unity exists between them. The most obvious element of unity is the fact that the civil law systems are all derived from the same sources and their legal institutions are classified in accordance with a commonly accepted scheme existing prior to their own development, which they adopted and adapted at some stage in their history. Roman law is both in point of time and range of influence the first catalyst in the evolution of the civil law tradition.
The roots of modern Western legal institutions and concepts go back nine centuries to the Papal Revolution, when the Western church established its political and legal unity and its independence from emperors, kings, and feudal lords. Out of this upheaval came the Western idea of integrated legal systems consciously developed over generations and centuries. Harold J. Berman describes the main features of these systems of law, including the canon law of the church, the royal law of the major kingdoms, the urban law of the newly emerging cities, feudal law, manorial law, and mercantile law. In the coexistence and competition of these systems he finds an important source of the Western belief in the supremacy of law. Written simply and dramatically, carrying a wealth of detail for the scholar but also a fascinating story for the layman, the book grapples with wideranging questions of our heritage and our future. One of its main themes is the interaction between the Western belief in legal evolution and the periodic outbreak of apocalyptic revolutionary upheavals. Berman challenges conventional nationalist approaches to legal history, which have neglected the common foundations of all Western legal systems. He also questions conventional social theory, which has paid insufficient attention to the origin of modem Western legal systems and has therefore misjudged the nature of the crisis of the legal tradition in the twentieth century.
'a superb book' J South Pacific L --
Designed for the general reader and students of law, this is a concise history and analysis of the civil law tradition, which is dominant in most of Europe, all of Latin America, and many parts of Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. This new edition deals with recent significant events—such as the fall of the Soviet empire and the resulting precipitous decline of the socialist legal tradition—and their significance for the civil law tradition. The book also incorporates the findings of recent important literature on the legal cultures of civil law countries.
Ellen Goodman uses extensive extracts from original writings to highlight the main themes of the Western legal tradition. The strength of the book is its clear focus on the heart of the tradition: constitutionalism, representative institutions and rule by law. Goodman links Christianity to its origins in Greek philosophy and Judaism. She delves into the position of the Roman Church as the tenuous, Dark Ages conduit. Feudalism lives and dies and the common law and parliament emerge. The author accurately and vividly charts the main currents, avoiding both the shoals and the myriad tributaries, and so enables readers to have a clearer and deeper understanding of our present legal system.

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