Law and revolution II
Harold Berman's masterwork narrates the interaction of evolution and revolution in the development of Western law. This new volume explores two successive transformations of the Western legal tradition under the impact of the sixteenth-century German Reformation and the seventeenth-century English Revolution, with particular emphasis on Lutheran and Calvinist influences. Berman examines the far-reaching consequences of these apocalyptic political and social upheavals on the systems of legal philosophy, legal science, criminal law, civil and economic law, and social law in Germany and England and throughout Europe as a whole.
Berman challenges both conventional approaches to legal history, which have neglected the religious foundations of Western legal systems, and standard social theory, which has paid insufficient attention to the communitarian dimensions of early modern economic law, including corporation law and social welfare.
Clearly written and cogently argued, this long-awaited, magisterial work is a major contribution to an understanding of the relationship of law to Western belief systems.
The roots of modern Western legal institutions and concepts go back nine centuries to the Papal Revolution, when the Western church established its political and legal unity and its independence from emperors, kings, and feudal lords. Out of this upheaval came the Western idea of integrated legal systems consciously developed over generations and centuries. Harold J. Berman describes the main features of these systems of law, including the canon law of the church, the royal law of the major kingdoms, the urban law of the newly emerging cities, feudal law, manorial law, and mercantile law. In the coexistence and competition of these systems he finds an important source of the Western belief in the supremacy of law.
Written simply and dramatically, carrying a wealth of detail for the scholar but also a fascinating story for the layman, the book grapples with wide-ranging questions of our heritage and our future. One of its main themes is the interaction between the Western belief in legal evolution and the periodic outbreak of apocalyptic revolutionary upheavals.
Berman challenges conventional nationalist approaches to legal history, which have neglected the common foundations of all Western legal systems. He also questions conventional social theory, which has paid insufficient attention to the origin of modern Western legal systems and has therefore misjudged the nature of the crisis of the legal tradition in the twentieth century.