This course considers European legal regimes as they moved around the globe. It examines those regimes’ interactions with one another and with non-European legal cultures from roughly 1500 to the twentieth century. Themes include: empire formation; conflicting ideas of property; interaction of settler and indigenous peoples; the law of nations and the law of war; and piracy and the law of the sea. Readings may include works by early modern legal thinkers such as Vitoria, Grotius, and Vattel. We will also discuss modern scholarship: e.g. Stuart Banner, Possessing the Pacific; Lauren Benton, A Search for Sovereignty; and Lisa Ford, Settler Sovereignty. We will also read some shorter works concerned with legal history methods. The course will have multiple short writing assignments and a take-home exam. Undergraduates may take this course only by instructor permission.
Halliday, Paul D.
This course surveys the history of England, Britain, and the British Empire up to the 18th century. We shall examine politics in the wake of the Norman Conquest in 1066 and at life in the later Middle Ages; the Reformation and the catastrophic civil wars of the mid-17th century; and the extension of England as it became Great Britain and a global empire. We will thus be concerned not only with England, but with its place in Europe and the world. Students will write some out-of-class essays and a take-home final exam. Readings may include: Robert Bartlett, The Hanged Man: A Story of Miracle, Memory, and Colonialism in the Middle Ages; Eamon Duffy, The Voices of Morebath: Reformation and Rebellion in an English Village; Alison Games, The Web of Empire: English Cosmopolitans in an Age of Exploration, 1560-1660; and Mark Kishlansky, A Monarchy Transformed: England, 1603-1714.
What is a crime? Who gets to define and punish crimes? How have answers to these questions fluctuated across time and across the globe as English law went to new places—to North America, South Asia, Australia, and beyond? How did criminal law define relations between Britons and indigenous peoples around the world?
We will think about these questions by focusing largely on the period 1600 to 1850 or so. Doing so will help us think about problems we face today: mass incarceration, capital punishment, the origins and function of prisons, connections between the crime and slavery, changing procedures in criminal law, and challenges in ensuring criminal prosecutions produce just results. We will begin by looking closely at crime and law in England, especially in London, then look outward.
We will read the works of selected historians. But we will concentrate our efforts on sources that shed light on past ideas and practices: case reports, newspapers, court records, maps and building plans, legal treatises, and paintings and engravings. As a seminar, students are expected to be active participants by producing short writing in response to our readings and by engaging in lively discussion of the assigned materials during our meetings. Students may be asked to produce and present small research projects.
This course surveys English law from the Middle Ages to the 18th century. In class, we will consider how social and political forces transformed law. Because this is a history course, law will be understood more as a variety of social experience and as a manifestation of cultural change than as an autonomous zone of thought and practice. We will look at competition among jurisdictions and the development of the legal profession. We will examine the development of some of the modern categories of legal practice: property, trespass and contracts, and crime. We will conclude by considering what happened to English law as it moved beyond England’s shores. Assignments include two essays (approximately 2000 words each), a midterm, and a final exam.
Students will read an array of court cases, treatises, and other sources from the thirteenth to the eighteenth centuries. These readings are dense and difficult but also fascinating. Most students will only grasp their meaning by paying very close attention to language, reading with a dictionary, and re-reading.
Assigned books may include:
J.H. Baker, An Introduction to English Legal History (4th ed.)
Mary Bilder, The Transatlantic Constitution: Colonial Legal Culture and the Empire
Amy Louise Erickson, Women and Property in Early Modern England
John Langbein, Torture and the Law of Proof: Europe and England in the Ancien Regime
Considers developments in the British Isles and its nascent empire in the 16th and 17th centuries. Focuses on historiography of the Reformation and persistent religious conflicts, the causes and nature of the Civil Wars, and the origins of empire.
Considers key ideas and practices in English law from the late medieval period. Attention given to institutions, their development, and their interaction. Legal change will be studied in its social, political, and economic contexts. Also explores transformations in English law as it moved across a burgeoning empire.
Considers major texts in legal and political thought of the 17th and 18th centuries. Focuses on canonical works by thinkers such as Hobbes, Harrington, Sidney, Locke, Smith, and Blackstone. Texts will be appoached from within their historical contexts.
Considers key ideas and practices in global legal history, ca. 1500-1900. Explores the interaction of European law with non-European cultures as empires expanded; the development of the law of the sea; and early ideas and pratices in the law of nations.