Law and Politics in the Ancient Athenian Agora

The Agora was the central gathering place for all of Athens, where social and commercial dealings took place. Arguably, it’s most important purpose was as the home base for all of the city-state’s administrative, legal and political functions. Some of the most important, yet least acclaimed, buildings of ancient history and Classical Athens were located[…]

Balance and the Law in Ancient Egypt

What made a judgment legal and binding was how closely a legal decision aligned with ma’at. Introduction Egyptian law was based on the central cultural value of ma’at (harmony and balance) which was the foundation for the entire civilization. Ma’at was established at the beginning of time by the gods when the earth and universe[…]

A History of the Architecture of the United States Supreme Court

Initially, the Court met in the Merchants Exchange Building in New York City. Building History “The Republic endures and this is the symbol of its faith.” These words, spoken by Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes in laying the cornerstone for the Supreme Court Building on October 13, 1932, express the importance of the Supreme Court[…]

The History and Traditions of the United States Supreme Court

The Supreme Court is deeply tied to its traditions. Introduction Established by the United States Constitution, the Supreme Court began to take shape with the passage of the Judiciary Act of 1789 and has enjoyed a rich history since its first assembly in 1790. The Supreme Court is deeply tied to its traditions: Of the[…]

Salvatore Maranzano: ‘Boss of All Bosses’ in the Early American Mafia

He briefly became the Mafia’s capo di tutti capi (“boss of all bosses”) and formed the Five Families in New York City. Introduction Salvatore Maranzano July 31, 1886 – September 10, 1931 was an organized crime figure from the town of Castellammare del Golfo, Sicily, and an early Cosa Nostra boss who led what later[…]

A History of the American Mafia

The first published account of what became the Mafia in the United States dates to the spring of 1869. Introduction The American Mafia, commonly referred to in North America as “the Mafia” or sometimes “the Mob”, or the Italian-American Mafia,[3][4][5] is a highly organized Italian-American criminal society and criminal organization. The organization is often referred[…]

A Brief History of Law since the Ancient World

Looking at legal institutions as complex systems of rules, players and symbols interacting with society. Introduction Legal history or the history of law is the study of how law has evolved and why it has changed. Legal history is closely connected to the development of civilisations and operates in the wider context of social history.[…]

Bologna as the Law School Model in Medieval Europe

Bologna remained a preeminent center for legal study and training for many centuries. Introduction The origins of modern universities can be traced to the 11th century, when the formal teaching of Roman law began at Bologna, Italy. The city became the center of a great revival of legal scholarship rooted in the study of the[…]

How Reliable Are Eye-Witness Testimonies?

Eye-witness testimonies are an essential component of many trials. They are a fundamental piece of evidence that in many cases are often necessary for the police to secure a conviction, and some cases cannot proceed without them. The reliability of eye-witness testimonies is always a concern. There have been cases when eye-witness testimonies have been[…]

History Of The Death Penalty For Law Students

During the colonial era, laws related to the death penalty were primarily influenced by the European system. The practice of capital punishment was brought in by the European settlers who came to the American continent. However, the entire sentiments towards capital punishment have undergone a series of changes throughout history. Law students are often required[…]

The Treatment of Women in Prison in the 19th Century

Woking Convict Invalid Prison: a woman prisoner in solitary confinement / Wellcome Collection, Creative Commons Prison officers tried to regulate women’s minds and bodies, and maintain a new disciplinary routine in the second half of the 1800s. Many female inmates resisted.      By (left-to-right) Dr. Rachel Bennett, Dr. Catherine Cox, and Dr. Hilary Marland /[…]

From Game of Thrones to Steven Pinker: Just how Lawless Were the Middle Ages?

Castillo de Zafra / Photo by Borjaanimal, Wikimedia Commons Medieval men and women were caught up in a Hobbesian pre-state society where violence was unrestrained and regularly went unpunished. Just how accurate is this perception? By Dr. Sara M. Butler / 08.15.2017 Professor and King George III Chair in British History The Ohio State University NOTE: This[…]

The Role of Ma’at in the Emergence of Law in Ancient Egypt

Examining the emergence of ancient Egyptian law out of religion and specifically arising from the concept of maat. By Dr. N.J. van Blerk Lecturer in Ancient Studies University of South Africa (UNISA) Abstract In this article, the emergence of ancient Egyptian law out of religion and specifically arising from the concept of maat is discussed, as well as the[…]

A Brief Overview of Law and Courts in Ancient Athens

The Athens Acropolis as seen from the Court of Cassation (Areopagus, i.e. the “Stone, or Hill, of Ares”) / Photo by Tilemahos Efthimiadis, Wikimedia Commons Focusing on Athenian law in the fifth and fourth centuries BCE. Introduction When we investigate how the law and the courts of Classical Greece worked, the law of ancient Athens provides most of[…]

The Historical Development of the Interface between Law, Medicine, and Psychiatry

From the Guild-Book of the Barber-Surgeons of the city of York / British Library, Public Domain Medicine and law were related from early times. This relation resulted as a necessity of protecting communities from the irresponsible acts of impostors. By Magdaleen Swanepoel, LLB, LLD Professor of Law University of South Africa (UNISA) History, despite its wrenching[…]

The Valerio-Horatian Laws of the Roman Republic and Plebeian Recognition

In response to drastic unjust debt and legal principles the Plebeians deserted their positions in society and left the Army refusing to fight in 494 BCE. The laws restored the right of appeal to the people and introduced measures which were favorable to the plebeians. Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 10.05.2018 Historian Brewminate Editor-in-Chief[…]

Roman Law, from the Twelve Tables to the Corpus Iuris Civilis

The historical importance of Roman law is reflected by the continued use of Latin legal terminology in many legal systems influenced by it, including common law. Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 10.05.2018 Historian Brewminate Editor-in-Chief Introduction Roman law is the legal system of ancient Rome, including the legal developments spanning over a thousand years[…]

The Origin of a Jury Trial from Ancient Greece to Medieval England

Kleroterion. This device was used for the jury selection system in Athens. Bronze identification tickets were inserted to indicate eligible jurors who were also divided into tribes. By a random process, a whole row would be accepted or rejected for jury service. There was a kleroteria in front of each court. / Photo by Sharon[…]

Social Norms in the Courts of Ancient Athens

Ancient Athens was a remarkably peaceful and well-ordered society by both ancient and contemporary standards. By Adriaan Lanni, J.D. Touroff-Glueck Professor of Law Harvard Law School Abstract Ancient Athens was a remarkably peaceful and well-ordered society by both ancient and contemporary standards. Scholars typically attribute Athens’ success to internalized norms and purely informal enforcement mechanisms.[…]

A Barbaric Form of Fixed Medieval Justice

Ordeal of boiling water from a Sachsenspiegel manuscript (1350 – 1375). Photo courtesy the Herzog August Bibliothek, Wolfenbüttel, Germany In difficult criminal cases, when ‘ordinary’ evidence was lacking, their legal systems asked God to painfully inform them about defendants’ criminal status. By Dr. Peter T. Leeson / 10.19.2017 Duncan Black Professor of Economics and Law[…]

Punishing Criminals in the Middle Ages

In the Medieval ages there was an incredible amount of criminals, mostly because of impunity which gave them freedom to commit crimes. Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 09.28.2018 Historian Brewminate Editor-in-Chief Reasons for Committing Crimes In the Medieval ages there was an incredible amount of criminals, mostly because of impunity which gave them freedom[…]

From Blue Lobsters to Friendly Giants: Visual Representations of the Police, 1840–1880

Gloucestershire Constabulary at Northleach 1850s Pictures of Victorian policemen contain varied, conflicting and interacting strands of meaning. By Jane M. Card / 08.27.2018 Historian Introduction Images from the past are never to be taken at face value since, made according to contemporary visual conventions and artistic tastes, they reflect not objective reality but contemporary opinions[…]

Justice in Pharaonic Egypt

Detail of sarcophagus lid of Ramesses III / The Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge Justice  was an immensely important concept within ancient pharaonic Egypt, known to them by the word Ma’at. By A.J. van Loon / 12.15.2014 MA Thesis, Ancient History Leiden University Introduction Concerning Egypt, I am going to speak at length, because it[…]

Rationality and Irrationality in the Ancient Greek Law of Procedure

A representation of Draco at the library of the Supreme Court of the United States / Photo by the Draconian Society, Wikimedia Commons Exploring rational and irrational procedural methods in Greek adjudication in archaic times. By Dr. Gerhard Thür Professor Emeritus of Roman Law Austrian Academy of Sciences Abstract The paper deals with what today[…]