Research on the History of Legal History

Changing images of the legal past: Savigny, Kantorowicz and Glenn

Adolfo Giuliani 

How does legal history move in time, and what determines the broad turns observable in this discipline beginning from the 19th century? This research starts from the premise that legal historiography cannot operate without a philosophical idea of “law” which summarises how law should be created, by whom and how.

Beginning from this premise, legal history should be better explained looking not at legal historians but at philosophers.  We find in fact major philosophical figures at its main turning points: Friedrich v. Savigny who in the early-19th c. believed to be the Kant of the discipline; Hermann Kantorowicz who in the early-20th c. reversed the earlier premises starting from neo-Kantianism and linguistic philosophy.

And today, the current reorientation of methods and objectives should be explained, according to this approach, by a vast reformulation of its theoretical premises and in particular by a growing concern with the informational framework whereby the law operates, from the philosophy of information. 

Table of contents

Introduction: Changing images of the legal past

I. The age of Savigny




II. The age of language

Kantorowicz and the linguistic turn

Ius commune europaeum and the crisis of legal science, 1930-60

The post-WWII defence of legal humanism

The Western Legal Tradition and Soviet Russia

III. The age of information

Law as information

What is information?

Legal history as the study of tradition, information and normativity