Max Planck Summer Academy for Legal History 2020 : Using History in Law

Stefanie Rüther's picture
Call for Papers
August 17, 2020 to August 28, 2020
Subject Fields: 
Ancient History, Colonial and Post-Colonial History / Studies, Contemporary History, Early Modern History and Period Studies, Medieval and Byzantine History / Studies


Applications are to be submitted by 31 January 2020.


The course

The Max Planck Summer Academy for Legal History provides a selected group of highly motivated early-stage research students, usually PhD candidates, with both an in-depth introduction to approaches and methods in legal history, and the opportunity to discuss their research projects with international peers and experts.

The Summer Academy is devoted to a different theme each year and taught by a team of international scholars. The academy consists of two parts. The first part provides an introduction to the study of sources, methodological principles, as well as theoretical models and controversial research debates

on basic research fields of legal history. In the second part, the participants present their research projects and discuss them in the light of that year's specific theme.

The course will take place at the Max Planck Institute for European Legal History in Frankfurt am Main, Germany.


This year’s theme: Using History in Law

History teaches us that people in all regions of the world have invoked the past or tradition to legitimise or delegitimise norms. Even today, in countries all over the globe and in very diverse legal cultures but also at the level of international law, ‘tradition’ is attributed an important role in the construction of legal systems and in substantiating legal claims.

Why and under what historical conditions circumstances did jurists assign such a high authority to the past? In what intellectual contexts and based on what understanding of epistemology, philosophy of history, or religion beliefs is the past used as an argument to legitimise or delegitimise existing or future law? And what force do historical arguments have in today’s laws?

Applicants to the 2019 Summer Academy are encouraged to present research projects that give special consideration to the significance of using history in law.


Eligibility Requirements

Early-stage research students, usually PhD candidates. Working knowledge of English is required, German is not a prerequisite.


Applications have to be supported by a CV, a project summary (approx. 10 pages) and a letter of motivation.


There is no participation fee. Accommodation will be provided by the organisers. Participants have to cover their own travel expenses. A limited number of travel grants is available to support participants otherwise unable to attend.



Max Planck Institute

for European Legal History

Dr. Stefanie Rüther


Contact Info: 

Max Planck Institute for European Legal History

Hansaallee 41

60323 Frankfurt am Main

Contact Email: