An Historical Introduction to Private Law

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One of the world's foremost legal historians attempts to explain how the private law of the Western world as we know it today evolved chronologically from the Germanic invasion in the early Middle Ages to the present day.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"More than a historical introduction to the contemporary law of Belgium and the Netherlands, less than a study that pays particular attention to the dichotomy between English and Continental law, van Caenegem's essay is consistently well informed (the bibliography is superb), occasionally provocative, and usually persuasive." Michael D. Gordon, American Historical Review
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521405140
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 2/28/2003
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.63 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface to the English-language edition
1 The origins of contemporary private law, 1789-1807 1
The Code civil of 1804: an end and a new beginning 1
The Code civil in Europe 2
Common law and reception 2
The compilation and promulgation of the Code civil of 1804 4
The Code civil: ancient and modern 6
The spirit of the Code civil 7
Courts and procedure 10
The merits of codification 11
Opposition to codification 13
Bibliography 15
2 Antecedents: the early Middle Ages, c. 500-c. 1100 16
The character of the period 16
Roman law 17
The Germanic national laws 18
Feudal law 20
Legislation: general points 20
Legislation: the capitularies 21
Jurisprudence 24
The courts and procedure 25
Evaluation 26
Bibliography 28
3 Europe and Roman-Germanic law, c. 1100-c. 1750 30
Character of the period 30
Before and after 1500: continuity 31
The development of the law: outline 33
Customary law 35
The European ius commune 45
Legislation 85
Case law 95
The courts and procedure 99
Factors 107
Evaluation 108
Bibliography 109
4 Enlightenment, natural law and the modern codes: from the mid-eighteenth to the early nineteenth centuries 115
Characteristics 115
The Enlightenment 115
Natural law 117
The codes of the Enlightenment 122
Factors 125
The courts and procedure 128
English law in the Enlightenment 134
Evaluation of the law of reason 139
The law of reason and the Historical School 142
Bibliography 144
5 The nineteenth century: the interpretation of the Code civil and the struggle for the law 147
France 147
Belgium and the Netherlands 151
Germany 155
Conservative England 159
Innovation in England 162
Bibliography 165
6 Statute, case law and scholarship 170
The question 170
Advantages and disadvantages 170
Legislators, judges and professors: competition 173
Law and the Volksgeist 177
7 Factors 180
Introduction 180
Change in law 181
Ideas and political power 183
Social groups and private law 184
The intellectual and moral climate 187
Final considerations 196
General bibliography 198
Index 206
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