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Saturday, March 10, 2012


This seminary invites students to investigate the origins of ‘Law & Humanities’ in Renaissance humanism. This variegated movement started among professional jurists on the Italian peninsular who were fascinated by the culture of Antiquity, the beauty of the pristine language of the Romans, and the classical ideal of the virtuous and learned citizen. Soon, jurists across Europe would try to imitate this inspiring model of the uomo universale, thereby laying the foundations of legal history, law and literature, and the study of the larger political and sociological context in which the law operates.

The first lesson will give students an overview of some important characteristics of legal humanism, starting with renowned humanists like Petrarca and gradually moving towards the reception of Italian humanism in France with jurists like Budé. These humanist lawyers’ passion for literature and history will be highlighted, as well as their ambiguous relationship with traditional legal education.

- P. Stein, Legal Humanism and Legal Science, in "Tijdschrift voor rechtsgeschiedenis", 54 (1986), p. 297-306

In the second lesson students will have the chance to read love poetry by the Italian humanist Giovanni G. Pontano and fragments of a novel on Cupid the Jurist by Étienne Forcadel, a law professor from Toulouse. In both instances, it will be shown how the humanist jurists mixed their passion for classical literature with their knowledge of Roman and canon law.

- G. G. Pontano (1429-1503), Eridanus 1.9
- E. Forcadel (1519-1578), Cupido Jurisperitus, cap. 2-3
- W. Decock, Law on Love's Stage: Étienne Forcadel's (c.1519-1578) Cupido Jurisperitus, in Draganova V., Kroll S., Landerer H., Meyer U. (Eds.), Inszenierung des Rechts / Law on Stage, München, Martin Meidenbauer, 2011, p. 17-36

3. LYING AND POLITICS IN LEGAL HUMANISMThe third lesson will concentrate on the humanists’ concern with politics and reason of state (raggione di stato). Through the reading of fragments taken from the book On Politics written by Justus Lipsius we will see how the humanists tried to come to terms with the political views that had been developed by Machiavelli. We will address such questions as whether lying and deceit are allowed in politics.

- J. Lipsius, Politica. Six books of politics or political instruction. Edited with translation and introduction by Jan Waszink, Assen 2004, p. 84-104 and p. 507-533 (odd pages)

WIM DECOCK'S CVWim Decock (°1983) graduated as a classicist at the Catholic University of Leuven (MA summa cum laude, 2005). He went on to participate in an interdisciplinary research project on European Legal Cultures, financed by the European Commission (6th Framework Program).
As a Marie Curie Early Stage Training Fellow he worked at the Max Planck Institut für europäische Rechtsgeschichte in Frankfurt am Main (2006-2007), the Istituto Italiano di Scienze Umane in Florence (2007-2008), and the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (2008-2009) in Paris. He was also granted a scholarship at the Academia Belgica in Rome (2007). During the spring term 2011 he was accepted as a visiting researcher at Harvard Law School, for which he was granted a travel grant from the FWO.
He is currently a fellow of the Flemish Research Foundation (FWO). On 8 December 2011 he received his PhD in Law from the University of Leuven and the degree of 'Dottore di ricerca in diritto europeo su base storico-comparatistica' from the Università degli Studi Roma Tre. In his dissertation, Wim investigated the historical foundations of modern contract law ('Theologians and Contract Law, The Moral Transformation of the Ius Commune, ca. 1500-1650).


  1. I'd like to share with you a newspaper article published yesterday titled:

    "Dante antisemita e islamofobo. La Divina Commedia va tolta dai programmi scolastici".

    Most disconcerting thing is that is a research consultant to the UN Organisation, wich carries out projects in development education, human rights, conflict resolution,who want to remove the most famous Dante's Alighieri work from school programs.
    Reading this article one can not be bitter about the words used to describe some of the most beautiful passages of Italian Literature.
    I'd like to know what you think about this request that I find unacceptable and offensive to the Italian tradition and culture.
    Here the link about the article:

    Best reguards
    Lucia Pizzari

  2. is it possible that in our readings there aren't the two chapters of Cupido jurisperitus? i'm talking about the second lesson

  3. Yes you are right ... read carefully Wim Decock 's article and it will be fine!

  4. Yes you are right ... read carefully Wim Decock 's article and it will be fine!

  5. I have an interesting example of what medievale commentators did changing the original meaning of istitutes as they were in the classica period of roman jurisprudence.
    A medieval phrase is that for usucapione we need iusta causa, bona fides, tempus, res habilis.
    For commentators and justinian compilators elements of usucapio in classical period of roman jurisprudence were non only bona fides but also iusta causa.
    But Lauria said: 'la iusta causa usucapionis e' la più grande illusione della tradizione romanistica'.
    In fact originally usucapio needed only bona fides; iusta causa came with actio publiciana which aimed to' protect the bona fides buyer a non domino and the buyer of res mancipii transferred by traditio untill the buyer attains the usucapio with the time.
    So the iusta causa was seen as an indispensable element even of usucapio.
    In additions justinian's compilators cancelled each reference to actio publiciana to funds transferred with traditio because they wanted to refer actio publiciana only to' movables transferred by traditio a non domino.