Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1908

Abstract

The origin of law schools is lost in antiquity. It is probable there were advocates in Babylonia,1 and schools for the education of judges and scribes (perhaps the ancestral lawyers) in Egypt,2 more than 2000 years B.C. The Civil Code of Deuteronomy was published 621 B.C.,3 and soon afterward schools of the prophets were formed for its study.4 When Ezra left Babylon for Jerusalem (485 B.C.) he "set his heart * * * to teach in Jerusalem statutes and judgments,"5 and the ruins of his school could be seen by the law students at Husal, 500 years later.6 It is probable that schools of jurisprudence and advocacy existed in Greece and Alexandria before the Christian Era.7 Schools where the Twelve Tables were publicly taught existed in Rome in the 5th century B.C.8 Gaius taught law in Troas in the 2d century A.D. Law schools existed as early in other places in the Empire.9 In 425 A.D., Theodosius founded a law school at Constantinople copied after the one then existing at Rome.10 A celebrated school existed at Beyrout in the time of Justinian (533 A. D.) who abolished all in the Empire except the three last mentioned.11 It is probable that Alcuin and Charlemagne together studied law (as they did everything else) in the Palace school at Aix,--the forerunner of the Universities of Paris, Tours, and Soissons.12 Before 1050 Lombard law was taught at Pavia. From here the lamp was handed to Bologna, where Irnerius began to teach Roman law about 1lOO A.D.,13 and where Lombard law had been taught before.14 Bulgarius (c. 1150), Azo (12OC), Accursius (1250), Bartolus (1350), Alciat and Cujas (1550) Heineccius (725), Thibaut and Savigny (1825) were all distinguished professors of law in great continental universities.15 Vacarius taught Roman law at Oxford in 1149, and was not silenced by Stephen. Thomas of Evesham continued the work. Though Henry III (1234) forbade the teaching of the leges in the London Schools, Oxford and Cambridge continued to give degrees in the Civil and Canon law.16 The English law was not taught in the Universities, and it is possible Henry's order was designed to foster the "new university," where lectures were read and the degrees of barrister, and serjeant conferred, in the Inns of Court, established by the lawyers between London and Westminster, after the Great Charter said "common pleas should no longer follow the King's court."17 In Fortescue's time (c. 1450) there were many students,18 "studying original writs, and dancing, and diversions of other kinds;" according to Coke "the readings therein were most excellent and behooful for attaining a knowledge of the law," and Ben Jonson called them the noblest nurseries of liberty in the kingdom. It was not however till 1753 that Blackstone began to lecture on the Common Law, at Oxford, where be became Vinerian professor in 1758. The Downing professorship of English law was not established till 1800. These are justified of their works for they have given us Blackstone's Commentaries and Pollock and Maitland's History.


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