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Codification in the Western Middle Ages

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Chapter Summary

Modern legal history was born in Germany, at the beginning of the nineteenth century, with the particular purpose of providing an alternative to a legal system based on rational codification. These competing evaluations of the relationship between legislation and codification in European legal systems in the very age in which modern legal history as a discipline was being born still colour our understanding of the history of codification in late antiquity and the Middle Ages. During the Gregorian reform papal ideology embraced the twin tactic of legalising institutions and centralising powers of governance. The interaction of legislatively active government and a robust legal profession as both stimulant to and control over governmental action might well be the truly important nexus in explaining both consistency and growth of later medieval institutions.

Keywords: European legal systems; Gregorian reform papal ideology; medieval institutions; middle ages; Modern legal history; rational codification



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