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Legal history

Legal history is a term that has at least two meanings.

(1) Among certain jurists and historians of legal process it has been seen as the recording of the evolution of laws and the technical explaination of how these laws have evolved with the view of better understanding the origins of various legal concepts, some consider it a branch of intellectual history.

(2) Twentieth century historians have viewed legal history in a more contextualized manner more in line with the thinking of social historians. They have looked at legal insistutions as complex systems of rules, players and symbols and have seen these elements interact with society to change, adapt, resist or promote certain aspects of civil society. Such legal historians haved tended to analyze case histories from the parameters of social science inquiry, using statistical methods, analyzing class distinctions among litigants, petitioners and other players in various legal processes. By analyzing case outcomes, transaction costs, number of settled cases the have begun an anlysis of legal institutions, practices, procedures and briefs that give us a more complex picture of law and society that the study of jurisprudence, case law and civil codes can achieve.

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