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date: 25 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter sets out the larger framework of the volume. It describes and contrasts different ways of undertaking Roman legal history, and explains the approach of the present volume. The chapter urges that a rich contextualisation of law in the circumstances of its production and subsequent interpretation accords with deeply held Roman beliefs about the nature of law. It sets ancient and modern notions of the autonomy of law (and the forms of legal historical study that autonomous law might seem to require) in conversation with the autonomy of law as political project in practice. The hard-won social and institutional authority of the Roman jurists is situated in comparative relation to political contests in early modern England among sources of law. Finally, the chapter explain compromises and choices made in the editorial process.

Keywords: introduction, law and society, law and history, Roman law, civil law

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