Rechtsgeschichte – Legal History 31 (2023)

The most recent edition of our journal Rechtsgeschichte – Legal Theory (Rg) once again gathers together scholarly research contributions and opinionated reviews on legal-historically relevant topics from Germany and around the world.

In the Research section, Dieter Grimm offers an English summary of the thesis put forward in his widely acclaimed book »Die Historiker und die Verfassung« (Historians and the Constitution). He is critical of the fact that the leading historical accounts of Germany’s overall development after the Second World War consider the contributions of the German Basic Law and the Constitutional Court only in a highly selective manner. Thought-provoking responses to his critique, together with Grimm’s reply, are presented in the Forum section of the book.

In his contribution, Jan Thiessen asks whether archival law as well as the case law on the right to privacy in Germany hinder contemporary historical research, whereas Jakob Zollmann investigates final decisions issued in particular by the Reichsgericht in cases that started out in the local colonial jurisdictions. The Research section is rounded off by two contributions that take us to Central and Eastern Europe. József Szabadfalvi offers an overview of the genesis of an independent Hungarian legal terminology, which – after Latin had lost its predominance as the language for law – struggled to resist, and eventually prevail over, the German legal terminology used in the Habsburg monarchy. Stefan Christian Ionescu shows how Romanian civil servants who had actively engaged in the »Aryanisation« of Jewish-owned property and businesses during the Second World War continued their career trajectories largely unchallenged after the war, at least initially.

The Focus section, coordinated by David Rex Galindo, presents some new approaches to researching Indigenous forced labour in the frontier regions of the Spanish Empire, from the late Middle Ages to the 19th century. The four articles in this section illustrate that it would be inaccurate to simply apply the term »slavery« to any and all forms of this phenomenon. They describe various institutions and normative orders that enabled the exploitation of Indigenous labour in territories as diverse as the Canary Islands, Chile and New Mexico, and the Philippines. The series of images in this year’s Rg depicting historical maps and cityscapes are directly related to several of the regions covered in the Focus contributions.

The multilingual Critique section offers 40 book reviews, which in their entirety reflect the diversity of the field of legal history and research carried out here at the Institute in Frankfurt. The volume closes with a Marginalia contribution by Thomas Duve on the œuvre of Paolo Grossi, who passed away in July 2022. The Italian legal historian, whose work centred on the medieval »legal order« in Europe, had maintained a close connection to the Institute over many years.

Rechtsgeschichte – Legal History 31 is now available in print (Verlag Vittorio Klostermann) as well as online (Open Access).

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