- Legal humanists
The legal humanists were a group of scholars of
Roman law, which arose in 16th century France(Bourges) as a reaction against the Commentators. They had a general disdain for the Middle Agesand felt nothing good could come from then. They also had a great love of antiquarianism and were greatly concerned with the authority and accuracy of the Corpus Iuris Civilis. Thus, they described the work of the glossators and commentators as a malignant cancer on the text. They particularly disliked the commentators because in their attempt to apply law in practice, they had moved further and further away from the texts.
This was the time of the
Renaissancein Europe, where people sought a new birth of society. They believed this would come through a return to the eternal principles underlying classical society. The religious reformers sought a return to the pure Word. In law, the humanists were a parallel movement, seeking a return to classical Roman law. This involved purifying the texts. The humanists had great confidence in the mind and so originally this was done through a conjectural knowledge of antiquity. However, Cujaccius recognised the importance of studying the best and most original text, and thus used the Florentine manuscript. This enabled a better study of the interpolations of the text. However, as more and more interpolations were revealed, the quasi-Biblical status of the texts was undermined, which undermined the work of the humanists.
Since the humanists were primarily concerned with a return to classical society, they were not solely interested in the law, but instead in the historical context. Some humanists placed little emphasis on the law except in respect to what it revealed about the Roman society, for example, Alicus. Pure law was thus given a monumental status. However, this resulted in a move away from practical application of the text. It was recognised that Roman law was the product of Roman society. This undermined the humanist movement as at the same time as arguing that Roman law was perfect for today’s society, they revealed it was a product of Roman society. The logical conclusion of this was that French law should be a product of French society. The humanists, for example, Donellus, presumed that Roman law was rational and so tried to fine an underlying rational structure. They split between the procedure (means of obtained answer) and substantive law (what is due.)
The humanists had little impact on the immediate practice of law. Court advocates and notaries remained faithful to the commentaries because the work of the commentators had been better circulated. Since they already knew the works of the commentators, they had a vested interest in ensuring that they remained the basis of the court system. Consequently there were fierce rebuttals, such as that of
Scipione Gentili. Humanism was largely irrelevant since it was based around the discovery of pure Roman law, and pure Roman law was only appropriate for Roman society.
In the long term, however, humanism did significantly influence legal science. The principle of using the best available text was established and the quasi-biblical authority of the texts was undermined, resulting in the rise of legal science. The systematisation of the texts was both aided and encouraged, giving rise to the Pandectist school. The logical skills of the humanists in their search for interpolations meant that lawyers had skills that were useful for society as a whole. They were thus the natural mediator in Italy when there was no emperor (and they had Imperial authority), they created a comprehensive system of law. When in French the church and crown were opposed, the humanists were able to help the king gain control with their use of logic.
A disputed impact of the humanists was on the law of contract. The Gordley thesis does not consider their work at all, and opponents to this thesis have argued that they were crucial to the development of modern
contract law. The humanists and commentators had reached the point where they acknowledged a large number of ways that agreement could be “clothed” in order to give rise to legal action, however, they still maintained that these were exceptions to the general rule that an agreement could not give rise to an action on its own. However, it was only a small step from this to the recognition that generally an agreement would give an action, but there were a few exceptions. That the transition was not made by the commentators is thought to be because of their adherence to the texts. This was undermined by the humanists. Thus, we might expect that the humanists would have brought the change that Gordley credits to the Spanish NeoScholastics. However, there is no evidence that this took place, perhaps because the humanists despised the work of the commentators to such an extent that they were unwilling to effectively build on the foundations laid down by the commentators in this area.
Most of the humanists were Protestants and so died or fled after the
St. Bartholomew's Day massacreof Protestants in 1573. However, the direct link that Donellus fled to Leiden(via Germany) and started the Dutch Elegant School, has been questioned by Osler, who points out that the French Humanist school continued after the massacre and that the Dutch Elegant School did not really take off until Noodt at the end of the 17th century. [cite web |last=Osler |first=Douglas J. |title=Legal Humanism |publisher= Max-Planck Institute|url=http://www.mpier.uni-frankfurt.de/forschungsgebiete/mitarbeiterforschung/osler-legal-humanism.html |accessdate=2008-02-23]
* "Guillaume Baudé, Andrea Alciato, Pierre de l'Estoile, Renaissance Interpreters of Roman Law", Michael L. Montheit, [http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0022-5037(199701)58%3A1%3C21%3AGBAAPD%3E2.0.CO%3B2-A JSTOR]
* "The Rise of Legal History in the Renaissance", Donald R. Kelly, [http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0018-2656(1970)9%3A2%3C174%3ATROLHI%3E2.0.CO%3B2-9 JSTOR]
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
Legal aspects of ritual slaughter — The legal aspects of ritual slaughter include the regulation of slaughterhouses, butchers, and religious personnel involved with traditional shechita (Jewish), dhabiĥa (Islamic) and Jhatka (Sikh) religious slaughter. Regulations also may extend… … Wikipedia
Renaissance humanism — was a European intellectual movement beginning in Florence in the last decades of the 14th century. The humanist movement developed from the rediscovery by European scholars of many Latin and Greek texts. Initially, a humanist was simply a… … Wikipedia
Jacques Cujas — Jacques de Cujas by an anonymous painter Jacques Cujas (or Cujacius) (or as he called himself, Jacques de Cujas) (1520 – 4 October 1590) was a French legal expert. He was prominent among the legal humanists or mos gallicus school, which sought to … Wikipedia
Claude Dupuy — See also Claude Thomas Dupuy (1678 1738) Claude Dupuy (1545–1594), a Parisian jurist, humanist and bibliophile, was a leading figure in the circle of French legal humanists and historians that gathered around Jacques Cujas and Jacques Auguste de… … Wikipedia
Andrea Alciato — Andrea Alciato, commonly known as Alciati (Andreas Alciatus) (January 12, 1492 1550), was an Italian jurist and writer. He is regarded as the founder of the French school of legal humanists.BiographyAlciati was born in Alzate Brianza, near Milan … Wikipedia
François Hotman — (August 23, 1524 February 12, 1590), was a French Protestant lawyer and writer, associated with the legal humanists and with the monarchomaques, who struggled against absolute monarchy. His firstname, is often written Francis in English. His… … Wikipedia
Europe, history of — Introduction history of European peoples and cultures from prehistoric times to the present. Europe is a more ambiguous term than most geographic expressions. Its etymology is doubtful, as is the physical extent of the area it designates.… … Universalium
education — /ej oo kay sheuhn/, n. 1. the act or process of imparting or acquiring general knowledge, developing the powers of reasoning and judgment, and generally of preparing oneself or others intellectually for mature life. 2. the act or process of… … Universalium
historiography — historiographic /hi stawr ee euh graf ik, stohr /, historiographical, adj. historiographically, adv. /hi stawr ee og reuh fee, stohr /, n., pl. historiographies. 1. the body of literature dealing with historical matters; histories collectively. 2 … Universalium
Secular humanism — is a humanist philosophy that upholds reason, ethics and justice, and specifically rejects the supernatural and the spiritual as the basis of moral reflection and decision making. Like other types of humanism, secular humanism is a life stance… … Wikipedia