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

Cristina Nogueira da Silva


Weekly - 4.5

Total - 54

Teaching language



General knowledge about global history. Knowledge on the political and institutional history of Europe.


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, GulbenkianMichel Villey, A Formação do Pensamento Jurídico Moderno, tradução de Claudia Berliner, São Paulo, Martins Fontes, 2005; Heikki, Pihlajamäki, Dubber, Markus, Godfrey, Mark (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of European Legal History, 2019. H4-269 (UNLFD) 24118.

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

1.Methodological introduction: main lines of a critical history of law; 2.Imagining society and power: a) the corporative paradigm; b) the individualistic paradigm; 3.The legal order of Common law (11th to 18th centuries). Constitutive ingredients: a) Roman law and the Roman law tradition; b) Canon law; c) Local law (Germanic, feudal and the law of the realm); d) The medieval schools of legal thought. 4.The Common Law as a pluralistic legal order; 5.Natural Law: mediaeval approaches to natural law (Tomism and Neo-tomism); modern forms of natural law (jus-rationalist and individualist legal order, 18th and 20th centuries). 6.Revolution and legal exegesis vs. romanticism and historical approaches on law .7.Conceptualistic approaches on law (19th century). 8.The anti-conceptualist and sociological legal schools (19th and 20th centuries). 9.The critical legal schools (19th ? 20th centuries). 10.Legal post-modernism; 11.Contemporary anti-legalism.


Programs where the course is taught: