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Law and Revolution, II: The Impact of the Protestant Reformations on the Western Legal Tradition

Law and Revolution, II: The Impact of the Protestant Reformations on the Western Legal Tradition

Harold J. Berman

ISBN 9780674020863

Publication date: 07/01/2009

Harold Berman’s masterwork narrates the interaction of evolution and revolution in the development of Western law. This new volume explores two successive transformations of the Western legal tradition under the impact of the sixteenth-century German Reformation and the seventeenth-century English Revolution, with particular emphasis on Lutheran and Calvinist influences. Berman examines the far-reaching consequences of these apocalyptic political and social upheavals on the systems of legal philosophy, legal science, criminal law, civil and economic law, and social law in Germany and England and throughout Europe as a whole.

Berman challenges both conventional approaches to legal history, which have neglected the religious foundations of Western legal systems, and standard social theory, which has paid insufficient attention to the communitarian dimensions of early modern economic law, including corporation law and social welfare.

Clearly written and cogently argued, this long-awaited, magisterial work is a major contribution to an understanding of the relationship of law to Western belief systems.


  • Taken together, Berman’s two volumes offer a sweeping panorama of the rise of modern law in the West, from its medieval beginnings to the start of the eighteenth century. In scope, learning, and ambition there is nothing else quite like them, and they constitute one of the deepest contributions to scholarship to have emerged from the legal academy in decades. In calling attention to these neglected episodes in the history of Western law, Berman has raised a host of difficult questions for historical and philosophical investigation, and one can only hope that others will follow his footsteps and explore the territory he has charted.

    —William B. Ewald, Constitutional Commentary


  • Harold J. Berman was Woodruff Professor of Law at Emory University and Ames Professor of Law, Emeritus, at Harvard University.

Book Details

  • Belknap Press

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