chapter  VIII
31 Pages

SOCIAL AND POLITICAL CONCEPTIONS

Politics and Law were not distinct branches of learning in the Middle Ages. It would be highly misleading to style any one of the Post-Glossators as a political thinker, although they all touched upon issues which, according to modern modes of thinking, lie in the province of political science. In the first place, the treatment of political questions by the medieval jurists is due to the fact that Justinian’s law books contain topics which would be held nowadays as purely political, such as the enactment in C.I, 1, 1, where the universal lordship of the Emperor is laid down as an axiomatic principle. Secondly, the actual conditions in the medieval Empire provoked thinking in political terms: the political conditions of the Empire were bound to have repercussions on legal science, for the divergence of legal systems in many parts of the Empire, the ensuing conflict of laws, and the question of the application of law, raised problems which were intimately bound up with the relations of the Empire to the Papacy, Kingdoms, and Civitates.1 Finally, by viewing law as a social phenomenon, medieval jurisprudence was forced to elucidate some basic principles relating to human society, and thus was led to consider topics which, under modern conditions, would be dealt with, not by the lawyer, but by the sociologist.2 Nevertheless, when they ceased to affect the juristic import of his investigations, all political and social problems ceased to arouse the interest of the lawyer. The medieval notion of law itself was far wider than the modern one, and comprised provinces which nowadays would come under the heading of politics and morals.1