Sources of Law and Legal Methods

Research Field

Legal history cannot be studied without sources. These are often inaccessible or cannot be understood without a concomitant engagement with the methodological tools available to those who produced, interpreted and applied these sources in the past. The Research Field Sources of Law and Legal Methods addresses these issues. It aims to identify, catalogue and make available sources that were inaccessible to earlier generations of researchers as well as to provide the relevant tools and aids to study them.

Using repositories, publications and collections, sources are collated and edited in long-term projects, for example the collections of legal opinions (consilia) from medieval jurists. A census of 16th-century legal imprints seeks to provide a comprehensive listing and description of the entire legal literature produced during the relevant period, at the same time attempting to show how these works were disseminated throughout Europe. Another project seeks to uncover the complete manuscripts of the influential 14th-century jurist Baldus de Ubaldis. The Institute’s research on the Legal History of the European Union makes use of oral history, a key method of collecting sources in contemporary history.

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