Towards a Legal History of European Law

Printer-friendly version

Table of Contents: I. Introduction. – II. The lack of legal history of European law. – III. What kind of legal history for European law? – IV. Towards a legal history of European law.

Abstract: European law differs from other fields of law in that it has no well-established tradition for legal history. This places European law at a real disadvantage when it comes to critically reflecting upon its own tradition of great classics as well as understanding the relatively conflictual role European law plays in the EU today. This Article first offers a few reflections about why there is no established tradition for legal history in European law and what this means for legal scholars in the field. In a second step, the Article explores what kind of legal history could be developed in the field of European law. Ultimately, the Article concludes that legal history today generally has adopted mainstream historians’ contextual and archival approach to explore the role of law in broader society. This Special Section consequently represents an important first step for legal scholars of European law to venture into the field of legal history using the recently opened historical archives of the Court of Justice of the European Union.

Keywords: legal history – European law – history of European integration – law studies – politics studies – international law.

European Papers, Vol. 6, 2021, No 2, pp. 923-932
2499-8249 - doi: 10.15166/2499-8249/505

* Associate Professor, University of Copenhagen,


European Forum


Forum Européen


Forum europeo


Foro Europeo