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In this book Franz Wieacker tells how legal thinking, writing and teaching started in Europe and how it developed. He begins in the High Middle Ages and describes how the Glossators laid down the foundations by applying methodical criticism and exegesis to the Digest of Justinian. As Reinhard Zimmermann's foreword shows, Wieacker's way of telling the history of European legal thought from its origins in medieval Bologna down to the present day and of elucidating the intellectual conditions for its development is a stunning achievement.
One of the great strengths of the book lies in its demonstration of the constant interaction between the thinking of lawyers and the general philosophical ideas of their time: between Scholasticism and medieval legal science, between the enlightenment and the Law of Reason, between Classicism (and Romanticism) and Savigny's Historical School of Law.
It is hardly surprising that so ambitious and erudite a work should have become a classic since 1952, when it was first published in German. Now Tony Weir's brilliant translation makes the seond and final edition accessible to English-speaking scholars the world over.