A Short History of European Law: The Last Two and a Half Millennia

Tamar Herzog (Author)
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Product Details

Harvard University Press
Publish Date
February 18, 2019
5.7 X 0.9 X 8.9 inches | 0.85 pounds
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About the Author

Tamar Herzog is Monroe Gutman Professor of Latin American Affairs and Radcliffe Alumnae Professor in the History Department at Harvard University, and Affiliated Faculty Member at Harvard Law School.


Herzog's book is a remarkable achievement, sure to become a go-to text for scholars and students alike. Comprehensive and concise, it bridges the continental and Anglo-American traditions and focuses on vital questions of legal authority and legitimacy. It is a must-read for anyone eager to understand the origins of core legal concepts and institutions--like due process and rule of law--that profoundly shape the societies in which we live today.--Amalia D. Kessler, Stanford University
A brilliant and bold synthesis of more than two thousand years of the history of European law. Herzog deftly articulates the complex relationship between political and social events on the one hand and the juridical solutions devised to address them on the other. She challenges both the idea of formal continuity of law over time and the assumed divergence between English common law and Continental law. A Short History of European Law is a valuable and original book.--Simona Cerutti, ร‰cole des hautes รฉtudes en sciences sociales, Paris
In this fresh and sometimes surprising book, Herzog acknowledges the worldwide impact of European legal history without ever becoming Eurocentric. She connects legal history with their imperial dimensions, civil with common law, and core topics with illustrative detail. Drawing on diverse historiographies, she links this long history to today's dynamically changing world of law. A great read, erudite and original.--Thomas Duve, Max Planck Institute of European Legal History
Few histories are more consequential than those of our laws, since how we imagine the relationship of our laws to their past can itself affect the present of our polities. How surprising, then, that few historians have dared to confront the vastness of that history. Herzog's lapidary book is much vaster than even its title suggests and is required reading for Americanists North and South, and indeed, for all of us inhabiting a postcolonial world deeply marked by the millennia of legal imaginings whose dynamic transformations it so lucidly charts.--David Nirenberg, University of Chicago
A fundamental and timely contribution to the understanding of Europe as seen through its legal systems. Herzog masterfully shows the profound unity of legal thinking and practices across the Continent and in England. This will become required reading for students and scholars across the social sciences.--Federico Varese, University of Oxford
Exceptionally readable, the book presents the various elements of Roman law augmented by German law that thereupon fed into the legal systems of France, Germany, and England...This is a marvelous introductory reflection on the beginning of law in the West that was then exported to the remainder of the globe through the imperial enterprise...Here is an essential read for legal historians and law students.--S. R. Silverburg"Choice" (06/01/2018)