Fürstenrecht und Staatsrecht im 19. Jahrhundert

Eine wissenschaftsgeschichtliche Studie

[Laws of Nobility and Laws of State in the 19th Century
A Study in the History of Science]

Dorothee Gottwald

Studien zur europäischen Rechtsgeschichte 241
Frankfurt am Main: Klostermann 2009. XI, 289 p.

ISSN 1610-6040
ISBN 978-3-465-04071-2

The laws of nobility (Fürstenrecht) consisted of the code of conduct for the higher aristocracy. The leading noble families developed it without state intervention, and it mainly covered questions of family and estate law. Nineteenth-century laws of nobility have long been considered backward, a relic of the Old Empire’s estates system, but this assessment is unfair. In fact, the jurisprudence of the laws of nobility was at the cutting edge of the time. It responded to the changing political and social landscape as well as the dogmatic challenges emanating from the ‘legal method’ and the doctrine of the state’s legislative monopoly with new doctrines and tools. At the core of these new ideas were the concepts of ‘autonomy’ and the ‘cooperative’, which were innovatively combined with an abstract concept of the state. The political goal was not necessarily to preserve aristocratic privileges. On the contrary, Hermann Schulze, a Heidelberg jurist, developed the only doctrine that stood the test of time, according to which the aristocracy was subordinated to the state and the laws of nobility were to be integrated into the egalitarian legal system of civil society.  Investigating the scholarly treatment of non-state law in the age of state-centric legal positivism also illuminates the emergence and function of the theory of cooperatives, the theory of autonomy as well as the value of the ‘legal method’.

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