When is a new site live: when its makers put a notice on the main page or when they send announcements by e-mail to all and sundry? Or does the life of a new site start when you somehow find it and start visiting it? As it happens I know of two new sites for legal history, Rechtsgeschiedenis.org, a Dutch site primarily for Dutch legal history, and Storia del diritto medievale e moderno, an Italian website with medieval and modern history as the main subjects. I must have detected the Italian website rather early, because it has now received a new and obviously official name, but also a notice “Under construction”.
Paolo Alvazzi del Frate (Università Roma Tre) has already two blogs on legal history, on French legal history, Storia giuridica francese – Histoire juridique française, and on Italian law in the modern period. Both have recently received a new outlook. One of their salient features are the very useful link collections. Somehow it is logical that Alvazzi del Frate should have taken the initiative for a new site on Italian legal history. Storia del diritto medievale e moderno shows on its start page an image of the inner court of some official institution: a law faculty, a court of justice? The site proposes to publish news and notices on new publications. There will be a section with essays, articles and texts. Space has been allotted to discussions and to an online forum. The link section is already present. Remarkable are the lists with researchers organized into three ranks, ordinary professors, associated professors and researchers. Tanti auguri per questo sito!
The new Dutch site has been developed on behalf of the Foundation for Old Dutch Law which until now had only some basic but useful pages at Maastricht University. Paul Brood and Marie-Charlotte Le Bailly take responsibility for the new website. Rechtsgeschiedenis.org will devotes space to news (Actualiteit). In fact because news items show up here regularly since more than one month, one can consider this at least for a part as a functioning new website. The section on research (Onderzoek) is most promising: here a bibliography is about to appear. Texts, databases, thematic dossiers and links will be added; the link section is as yet the same as on the old pages. Of course the Foundation for Old Dutch Law is present, too, with all the usual information. You can find here for example a set of links to editions of municipal law books edited by this foundation which have been digitized in the wake of the work for the Deutsches Rechtswörterbuch at Heidelberg. Worth mentioning are the journal Pro Memorie and the ongoing series started in 2000 of guides to legal procedure at several Dutch historical courts. Interesting is also the section Annuarium, a space for personal profiles of researchers.
“Why is the law as it is? How did it develop? Why don’t we know the trial by jury and lay judges as in other countries? Are there traces of old indigenous law in modern law?” Questions at the start page of Rechtsgeschiedenis.org. Posing these and other questions is one of the reasons for doing legal history. On the new site is also the intention expressed of becoming a new exchange platform for Dutch and Belgian researchers. One can only applaud the proposal and wish this new site a very rich future!
Let’s add two news items concerning Dutch and Belgian legal history:
- the department for Roman law and legal history at Leuven University has a new website.
- the Centre d’Histoire du droit et de la Justice of the Université Catholique de Louvain announces the publication of the acts of the nineteenth Dutch-Belgian Legal History Days, both in printed form or as a PDF