A Short History of Roman Law

A Short History of Roman Law

A Short History of Roman Law

A Short History of Roman Law


The most important creation of the Romans was their law. In this book, Dr Tellegen-Couperus discusses the way in which the Roman jurists created and developed law and the way in which Roman law has come down to us. Special attention is given to questions such as 'who were the jurists and their law schools' and to the close connection between jurists and the politics of their time.


This historical introduction to Roman law is written primarily for law students whose course includes legal history. It may also be useful to classicists and historians. Nowadays no lecturer dare assume that law students have a thorough knowledge of classical antiquity. I have therefore given considerable attention to the socio-economic and political factors that influenced the development of the law.

This book was written originally as a textbook for Dutch law students and has been used successfully for a number of years now. Professor P.B.H. Birks (All Souls, Oxford) suggested that an English version of the text might be useful in law courses at universities in the English-speaking world.

As I read through the English translation I became more critical of the original text and decided that certain points needed to be clarified and adapted. in particular the section on the formulary procedure seemed to require more detailed treatment since it played a crucial role in the development of Roman law. I have also compiled some explanatory notes for the English version and I refer to sources and background literature. Because the text is now intended for English-speaking countries I have referred mainly to literature written in English. As a basis for ancient history I have used A History of Rome by M. Gary and H.H. Scullard (Macmillan, 1975); for more detailed information about the juridical elements I always refer to A Historical Introduction to the Study of Roman Law by H. Jolowicz and B. Nicholas (Cambridge University Press, 1972), but the information given in these books has been supplemented by references to more recent literature.

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