The Legacy of Roman Law in the German Romantic Era
Historical Vision and Legal Change
James Q. Whitman


Well after the process of codification had begun elsewhere in nineteenth-century Europe, ancient Roman law remained in use in Germany, expounded by brilliant scholars and applied in both urban and rural courts. The survival of this flourishing Roman legal culture into the industrial era is a familiar fact, but until now little effort has been made to explain it outside the province of specialized legal history. James Whitman seeks to remedy this neglect by exploring the broad political and cultural significance of German Roman law, emphasizing the hope on the part of German Roman lawyers that they could in some measure revive the Roman social order in their own society. Discussing the background of Romantic era law in the law of the Reformation, Whitman makes the great German tradition of legal scholarship more accessible to all those interested in German history. Drawing on treatises already known to legal historians as well as on previously unexploited records of legal practice, Whitman traces the traditions that allowed nineteenth-century German lawyers like Savigny to present themselves as uniquely "impartial" and "unpolitical." This book will be of particular interest to students of the many German thinkers who were trained as Roman lawyers, among them Marx and Weber.

First published in 1990.

The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback and hardcover editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.