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Legal history: western Europe: European legal history

Using this guide

Discover the other pages in this guide by clicking on the dark blue tabs above this box (below the main title of the guide) eg MA Roman law or Jurisprudence.
Please forgive us for adopting the anachronistic short hand of modern political/geographic units as page names.

Other guides to Bodleian Resources which may be useful:

Western European legal history - a guide in progress

It is hoped that this guide will grow to include other countries & periods in due course ...

It is a guide to resources on the topic in the Bodleian Libraries, not just the Law Bod.

The Law Bod concentrates its collection on English legal history - the common law or Anglo- American legal tradition - together with countries, such as Scotland & South Africa where the common law has become one important strand among others.

Researchers interested in the history of the legal systems of continental Europe may well find that the Bodleian History Reading Rooms, the Sackler and the Taylorian Libraries as well as the Bodleian Closed Stacks have more material than the Law Bod.

Fortunately a single SOLO search should locate the available resources where ever they happen to be!

Online help is available on how to request material from the Closed Stack is available - and always feel free to ask a member of staff for guidance when you are in a Reading Room.

We trust that it is obvious that a reading knowledge (at least) of the language of the country/area of Europe you wish to study is essential. The broader your language skills, the more comparative studies you will be able to draw on too! Translations from the Latin (classical and medieval) are increasingly being seen as a requirement in modern publications - even from the academic presses. Holders of an Oxford Single Sign-On (OSS) however can access the online  Database of Latin Dictionaries
Note Do not rely on "ordinary" language dictionaries for definitions of legal jargon. The Law Bod has specialist law dictionaries for most of the major European languages - and, in many instances, bilingual law dictionaries to help you with the equivalent English term or concept.

Electronic resources

The following are multi-jurisdictional and suggested as useful starting points:

Some top level subject searches to help you find overviews & introductions in SOLO 

Law  Europe  History

Law, Medieval

Law -- Europe -- Roman influences -- History

Roman law -- reception -- Europe

Justice, Administration of -- Europe -- History

Other pages in this guide will have more detailed suggestions for subject searches.

More than just the written word?

Introductions in print