England and the Broader World: Roman Law in the Imagination of Thirteenth-Century Justices


Was Roman Law received into English Law?

English exceptionalism is often a given in narratives of legal history. England went its own way while Continental Europe received and developed a common law based on Roman law.

We have invited two researchers [Professor Thomas McSweeny and Dr hab Łukasz Jan Korporowicz ] to create lectures for the Centre for Legal History to showcase their recent work on the question of the Roman legal tradition's place in the development of English Common Law.

Professor Thomas McSweeney is a professor of law at William and Mary Law School. His research focuses on the early history of the common law. He is particularly interested in the ways the judges and lawyers of the thirteenth century taught and learned the law. His book, Priest of the Law: Roman Law and the Making of the Common Law's First Professionals (OUP), examines the ways in which thirteenth-century justices modeled their practices on those of the jurists of Roman law working in the universities. They assimilated the texts they produced in the English royal courts to genres of legal literature they had encountered in the schools of Roman and canon law in order to make the case that the English common law was part of a pan-European legal culture. He is currently working on a project on the texts that England’s earliest generations of lawyers used to learn the law.

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Run time: 46 minutes.

Part of the lecture event "Roman Law in the Thirteenth to Eighteenth Centuries," presented by The Centre for Legal Research at Edinburgh Law School.

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Edinburgh Law School, University of Edinburgh