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Legal History

Legal history research and teaching at Edinburgh Law School focuses on Roman Law in the Ancient World and the Middle Ages, the History of Scots Law, European Legal History and the Legal History of Louisiana, Natural Law and Canon Law, and Slavery.

Academic books

This activity reflects a long tradition in the School as the Chair of Civil Law, founded 1710, was the first active law chair in the University. These fields are covered in a number of different courses, and there is a lively group of postgraduate students. Teaching and research are generally pursued in an interdisciplinary and comparative fashion, drawing on the excellent resources available in Edinburgh, to support historical and comparative research within the civilian tradition.

John W. Cairns, Professor of Civil Law

Paul J. du Plessis, Professor of Roman Law

Hector L. MacQueen, Professor of Private Law

Guido Rossi, Reader in European Legal History

Journal articles

Subjects, citizens, and persons: Natural law and the drafting of the digest of the civil law of the territory of Orleans.
Cairns, John W. In: Loyola Law Review, Vol. 66, No. 2, 27.02.2020. View article

Disqualified witnesses between Tannaitic Halakha and Roman Law : A response to Orit Malka.
Du Plessis, Paul. In: Law and History Review, Vol. 37, No. 4, 06.11.2019, p. 947-954. View article

Introductory essay to the translation of the discurso preliminar of Pérez y López’s Teatro.
Cairns, John W. In: Journal of Civil Law Studies, Vol. 11, No. 2, 03.04.2019. View article

Book chapters

'Provincial law' in Britannia. 
Du Plessis, Paul. Law in the Roman Provinces. ed. / Kimberley Czajkowski; Benedikt Eckhardt; Meret Strothmann. Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2020. p. 437 - 461 (Oxford Studies in Roman Society and Law). View Chapter

The legal education of Alexander Mylne, First President of the College of Justice.
Cairns, John W. De Rebus Divinis et Humanis: Essays in Honour of Jan Hallebeek. ed. / Harry Dondorp; Martin Schermaier; Boudewijn Sirks. Göttingen : V & R unipress, GmbH, 2019. p. 15-23. View chapter

Development of Comparative Law in Great Britain.
Cairns, John W. The Oxford Handbook of Comparative Law. ed. / Mathias Reiman; Reinhard Zimmermann. 2. ed. Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2019. p. 111-147 (Oxford Handbooks). View chapter

Spanish Law, the Teatro de legislación universal de España e Indias, and the Background to the Drafting of the Digest of Orleans of 1808.
Cairns, John W. Legal Traditions in Louisiana and the Floridas 1763-1848. ed. / Seán Patrick Donlan; Vernon Valentine Palmer. Clark NJ : Talbot Publishing, 2019. p. 149-199. View chapter

Property and possession.
Du Plessis, Paul. A Cultural History of Law. ed.
Julen Etxabe. Vol. 1 1. ed. London : Bloomsbury Academic, 2019. p. 109 - 124. View chapter

The legacy of Smith's jurisprudence in late eighteenth-century Edinburgh.
Cairns, John W.
Philosophy, Rights and Natural Law: Essays in honour of Knud Haakonssen. ed.
Ian Hunter; Richard Whatmore. Edinburgh : Edinburgh University Press, 2019. p. 278-305. View chapter

Jacques de Revigny (c. 1230 - 1296).
Du Plessis, Paul. Great Christian Jurists in French History. ed. / Olivier Descamps; Rafael Domingo Osle. Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 2019. p. 71-84 (Cambridge Studies in Law and Christianity). View chapter


Representation and Ostensible Authority in Medieval Learned Law.
Rossi, Guido. Frankfurt am Main : Vittorio Klostermann, 2019. 611 p. (Studien zur europäischen Rechtsgeschichte). View book

Edited Collections

Roman Law Before the Twelve Tables : An Interdisciplinary Approach. 
Bell, Sinclair W (Editor); Du Plessis, Paul (Editor). Edinburgh : Edinburgh University Press, 2020. 216 p. View collection

Centre for Legal History
The Centre for Legal History provides a lively social and scholarly focus for the active research community – faculty members, postdoctoral researchers, and postgraduate students - in legal history, including Civil (Roman) law, in the School of Law.
Visit the Centre for Legal History website

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