The varieties of legal history

Summer is the time par excellence to start reading at last some books that have waited too long on the shelves. Before deciding which books will finally get read, it is also time to look back at the first half year of this blog.

The start of this blog looks in retrospect even more enthusiastic than it felt at the time. December 2009 saw twelve posts, a number that I will probably not repeat. Creating my website asked a lot of time and attention, and it was worth doing it. Updating and expanding the information helped me to understand more of the subjects I treat on my website. The main lesson is that much more can be done. When I started blogging I made a list of possible themes. I proposed to myself to create a few series on particular subjects. So far only the series on Centers of legal history has really started. I was surprised how many times I just stumbled on new subjects for a post, or literally walked to them! Going back to my original list will hopefully help to write less often about my walks.

One of the main features of this blog is a congress calendar, my effort to bring together information on congresses, seminars and events in legal history. On my old webpages you could find the forerunner of this service. What strikes me that my lists used to be rather short. In the period between 2002 and 2010 I clearly took no notice of many events. It is very reassuring to see now the sheer number and variety of events. I have often hesitated to include also one day events. Their number is surprisingly large!

Legal history brings you to a great variety of subjects. Of course some of the main congress series are more focused on the legal history of one country, but a large number of them transcend national borders, touch two continents or cover long periods of history. Whatever the actual position of legal history in the academical world may be, legal historians have opened new horizons. Writing the legal history is no longer possible, useful or needed. A kind of second birth is called for. Reading about William James’ definition of a twice-born religion, a phrase in his The Varieties of Religious Experience (1902), helped me realizing that such a jump into uncharted territories, or at least placing the safe surroundings of one’s beloved approaches and methods in a wider context, is a healthy thing to do. And no matter which books I will read this summer I see myself continuing to reflect about doing legal history in this century.

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