A highly significant division in present-day Europe is between two types of legal system: the Continental with foundations in Civil Law (law with an ultimately Roman law basis), and English Common Law. Both trace their continuous history back to the twelfth century. The present project re-evaluates this vital period in legal history, by comparing not just English Common Law and Continental Civil Law (or “Ius commune”), but also the customary laws crucially important in Continental Europe even beyond the twelfth century. Such laws shared many features with English law, and the comparison thus disrupts the simplistic English:Continental distinction. The project first analyses the form, functioning and development of local, national, and supra-national laws. Similarities, differences, and influences will then be examined from perspectives of longer-term European legal development. Proper historical re-examination of the subject is very timely because of current invocation of supposed legal histories, be it politicised celebration of English Common Law or rhetorical use of Ius commune as precedent for a common European Law.
The project is funded by a European Research Council ‘Advanced Grant’ of €2,161,501. (Grant agreement number: 740611 CLCLCL).
The project currently employs five post-doctoral fellows and provides research funding for three PhD students.