Welcome to the website for Comparative Legal History 1050-1650, a workshop hosted by the St Andrews Institute of Legal and Constitutional Research. Here you will be able to register for the workshop, view the programme and keep up to date with relevant news and information.

This workshop aims to examine themes in legal history from a comparative perspective. It builds upon F.W. Maitland’s famous observation that “history involves comparison”, and that those who ignore every system but their own “hardly came in sight of the idea of legal history”.* The workshop will examine the differences and similarities between various legal traditions across a broad time-period to produce better approaches to the subject of legal history, combining depth of analysis with historical contextualization. Rather than comparing individual rules or searching for universal systems, this workshop will take an intermediate approach the topic of comparative law, investigating patterns in legal norms, processes, and practice.

The papers accepted for this workshop may themselves approach topics comparatively. However, there is no requirement that each paper is explicitly comparative, as the sessions will be designed to allow comparative perspectives to emerge between individual papers.

The workshop is designed to bring together postgraduate students, early-career researchers and established academics (including three main speakers) who are working in the field of legal history. The aim is to allow delegates to discuss their work with other historians and legal scholars, and to make connections and draw inspiration from the broad range of research that is presented. The broad period covered by the workshop is intended to facilitate discussion of a number of legal systems in the medieval and early modern period.

We are grateful for the generous financial support provided by the Institute of Legal and Constitutional Research and the ERC project ‘Civil Law, Common Law, Customary Law: Consonance, Divergence and Transformation in Western Europe from the late eleventh to the thirteenth centuries.’


*F.W. Maitland, “Why the History of English Law is not Written”, In H.A.L. Fisher, ed., Collected Papers (Cambridge, 1911), i, 488.