Syracuse University              ORANGESEAL.GIF (6724 bytes)

History 381/615 Foundations of Modern Law


Ken Pennington

313B Maxwell Hall

Office Hours: 2:00-3:00 MWF

tel. 443-4750

Email:  and  (Click on addresses to send Email)

  profess3.gif (44155 bytes)Required books:


J.M. Kelly, A Short History of Western Legal Theory, Oxford $35.00

Manlio Bellomo, The Common Legal Past of Europe, Catholic $18.95

Justinian, The Digest of Roman Law, Penguin $11.95

Gratian, Treatise on Laws, Catholic, $14.95

James A. Brundage, Medieval Canon Law, Longman, $30.00

John Henry Merryman, The Civil Law Tradition, 2nd Edition, Stanford, $8.76


Compare prices!  The books can be bought from or from Barnes and Noble for the price quoted after the book.


The following readings can also be borrowed in hardcopy at my office

Ken Pennington, "Bartolome de Las Casas and Medieval Legal Tradition"

Ken Pennington, "Spirit of Legal History"

Ken Pennington, "Due Process, Community, and the Prince in the Evolution of the Ordo iudiciarius"

 Ken Pennington, "Learned Law, droit savant, gelehrtes Recht:  The Tyranny of a Concept"

Homepage for History 381:

The Homepage for this course will provide internet links that you will find useful for the course. You will be informed by Email when links or material are added to the Homepage that you should consult. There are required readings on the Homepage for which you will be responsible.

Email Requirement

I want to hear from you regularly by Email, at least once a week. This is a requirement of the course. In your first message to me, I would like to know something about yourself and why you are interested in law.



Introduction, Definition of Terms, Conceptions of Legal History

           Introduction to the Jurisprudence of Law

Readings:     Ken Pennington, "Spirit of Legal History"

I. Ancient Law and Roman Law

            Ancient World Map

Readings: Kelly, chapters  1-2, Justinian

Code of Hammurabi 

Procedure in Code of Hammurabi

Map of Babylonia

Code of Gortyn

Hammurabi.jpg (16311 bytes)

Hammurabi's stele with his code inscribed on it

Law of the Twelve Tables
Lex Aquilia
Justinian's Institutes

Justinian's Digest and Code on Marriage


Bibliography and Readings for Roman Law


        Justinian's Empire

    Questions for Midterm Examination

II. Barbarian Law

Readings: Kelly, chapter 3, Bellomo, chapter 2, Brundage, chapter 2,

Salian Frank Law


  • III. Revival of Law in the Twelfth Century: The Rebirth of Roman Law, and the Evolution of Canon and Feudal Law:
  • Gratian, De legibus

    The evolution of procedure in the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries

    Key terms:  Cognitio extraordinaria, ordeal, and ordo iudiciarius

    Readings: Kelly, chapter 4, Bellomo, Chapters 3,5,6; Gratian, Decretum, Distinctiones 1-20; Brundage, chapter 3, Pennington, "Due Process"

    IV. The Common Laws of Europe

             England and France 1150-1200

           Constitutions of Clarendon    Prologue

           Assize of Clarendon


           Development of the Jury

    Magna Carta

    Bracton, De legibus     Bracton, Introduction

    Readings: Bellomo, Chapter 4, Brundage, chapters 4-7

    V. The Modern World: The Codification of Law

                    Codification 1231-1900

    Readings: Kelly, chapter 8-9, Bellomo, Chapter 1
    VI. Law in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe: "Rights-Based"   Jurisprudence

    Rights of Subsistence in Time of Necessity

    Rights of Property, Contract, and Marriage

    Readings: Kelly, chapter 5-7, Bellomo, Chapter 7, Brundage, chapter 8

      Pennington, "Due Process, Community, and the Prince in the Evolution of the Ordo iudiciarius"   Pennington,  Innocent until Proven Guilty:  Origins of a Maxim

    Pennington, "Bartolome de Las Casas", 

      Pennington, Rights in the Seventeenth Century:  Emanuel Gonzalez Tellez

    For a discussion of the concept of Ius commune, read Pennington, "Tyranny of a Concept."     Also this review of a book by Tierney will help you to understand the main developments of natural rights in premodern legal thought: Review of Tierney




            VII. A Comparison of the Civil and Common Law Traditions

    Readings: Kelly, chapter 10, Merryman, The Civil Law Tradition


    Final Examination Essay

    Examinations: There will be two essay examination papers, a Mid-Term and a Final. Both examination papers will be a series of essays on the materials of the course that will be written out of class. The Mid-term examination will be due Monday, October 11th and the final at the end of the semester, December 21st. The examinations should be printed in no smaller than 12pt typeface, double-spaced, with margins of 1" right and left. The pages should be numbered. The essays will be graded for content, syntax, and grammar.  Graduate Students will write a research paper in addition to the examination papers.