History Of Law


The aim of the course is for the students to critically reflect about law by studying different law systems that were historically experienced in the cultural space of Europe.  Specific objectives are a) to understand the genesis of European legal culture; b) to identify the various schools of European thought regarding law, its sources and legitimating structures and also the social imagination in which they were grounded; c) to locate historically these various schools, their genesis and the reception along the legal history of Europe; d) to distinguish between each one?s underlying philosophical and cultural approaches; e) to relate each one of these schools with their discursive, sociological as well as historical contexts. In what concerns skills and abilities, the students are expected to be able a) to apply the acquired knowledge; b) to research, collect, chose and interpret primary and secondary sources of the European  legal thought; c) to communicate the results of their research tasks.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Ana Cristina Fonseca Nogueira da Silva


Weekly - 4.5

Total - Available soon

Teaching language



Available soon


Berman, Harold J. (1997), Law and Revolution, the transformations of the Western Legal Tradition, Cambridge Massachussets, Harvard University Press; Caenegem, R. C. Van (1991), Legal history: a european perspective, London, The Hambledon Press; Eco, Humberto (2010), Idade Média. Bárbaros, cristãos e muçulmanos, Alfragide, Publicações D. Quixote; Hespanha, António Manuel (2012), Cultura Jurídica Europeia, Síntese de um Milénio, Lisboa, Almedina (5ª ed.); Gilissen, John (2001), Introdução Histórica ao Direito, Lisboa, Calouste Gulbenkian, 2001; Grossi, Paolo (2011), L?Europe du Droit, Paris, Éditions du Seuil; Lorente, Marta, Vallejo, Jesús, Manual de Historia del Derecho, Valencia, Tirant Lo Blanch, 2012; Silva, Nuno J. Espinosa Gomes (2006), História do Direito Português, Fontes do Direito, Lisboa, Gulbenkian (4ª ed.); Tamar Herzog, A short History of European Law. The Last Two and Half Millennia, Cambridge Massachussets, Harvard University Press, 2017.Wieacker, Franz (s.d.), História do Direito Privado Moderno, Lisboa, Gulbenkian.

Teaching method

Exposition of the course subject matter combined with the reading and commenting of historical texts. Small units of research work composed by students on topics related to the contents of the programme and its oral presentation.  The students is given the opportunity to expose their doubts in special sessions, the answer to those doubts be given by the Professor in charge of the curricular unit or by the other students. The evaluation gets from the classification of the research work, its oral presentation and a final written examination. This last one is the main element of evaluation.

Evaluation method

The evaluation gets from the classification of the research work, its oral presentation and a final written examination. This last one is the main element of evaluation.

Subject matter

The confrontation of objectives and contents is sufficient to this demonstration. The articulation between them is always present, in a multilevel way. For instance, the general objective as well as the first specific one (i), are transversal. Both are associated with a critical reflection on law and its relation with historical contexts, ideas about society and power, historical legal schools and their legitimacy forms (contents 2 to 10). Introductory contents promote the of critical sense, not only by denouncing how Law uses history to legitimate itself but also by showing that Law is related with historical circumstances, it is not an autonomous or neutral discourse. The other objectives are directly related with specific contents that allow the identification of social imaginations, historical legal schools and historical (philosophic, cultural, social-economic) contexts. This set of contents make a comprehensive understanding of the genesis of European legal thought possible.


Programs where the course is taught: