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Social sciences and humanities

Subject: HISTORY OF EUROPEAN LAW (A.A. 2023/2024)


Course year 1
Teaching units Unit Storia del Diritto Europeo
History and Law (lesson)
  • TAF: Basic compulsory subjects SSD: IUS/19 CFU: 6
Teachers: Pierpaolo BONACINI
Exam type oral
Evaluation final vote
Teaching language Italiano
Contents download pdf download


Pierpaolo BONACINI


The main educational objective to be achieved through active participation in the course and through individual study is to acquire a synthesis of the main stages of Italian and European legal history between the early medieval age and the beginning of the contemporary age (XI-XIX centuries).
The themes and the problems will be represented according to didactic and expository modalities able to solicit in the students critical spirit, sense of the historical continuity and awareness of the social, cultural, political and economic foundations of the juridical phenomena
Historical teaching is not the cornerstone of the training of the jurist engaged in the professions to which the training of the course of Corporate Law and Public Administration is primarily oriented, but it represents a cultural area essential to acquire awareness of the path followed in the evolution of legal culture and to exercise logical and exhibition skills useful in the practical application of any matter of positive law.

Admission requirements

It's useful to know the main institutions of Roman law and the basic elements of Italian and European political-institutional history between the eleventh and nineteenth centuries. It is also essential to have a good command of the Italian language.

Course contents

For attending and non-attending students, the program is divided into the following thematic modules:

1. The age of classical Ius Commune (12th-15th centuries) (2 CFU)
The formation of a new legal science, in the civil and canonistic field, has in Italy its original matrix and leads to the definition of two vast normative complexes that are perceived as universal and "common" because they are made up of rules and norms that are superior and general to those of the many particular and local rights proper to the individual places and orders and classes in which the society of the time was divided. In the centuries of the late Middle Ages, new methodological approaches developed thanks to the personality of great jurists whose influence remained alive until the age of modern codifications.

2. The modern age (16th-18th centuries) (2 CFU)
The dissemination of a "common" legal doctrine and culture on a European scale is confronted with the formation, in the modern age, of complex and articulated state structures that begin to express centralized functions, including the administration of justice, and to produce a right of territorial scope. It also confronts two other irreversible processes: the loss of religious primacy by the Roman Church, with the detachment from it of about half of Christian Europe (Protestant Reformation) and the widening of the horizons of European civilization to other continents with particular consequences compared, above all, to the territories of South and North America.

3. Reforms, revolutions, law codes (18th-19th centuries) (2 CFU)
There is widespread criticism of the current institutional system, which results in a series of reforms in a plurality of areas of associated life. There is a growing conviction that society can be transformed according to an organic and rational plan, that it is the task of the State to implement this plan and that the privileged instrument is law in its legislative dimension. This process leads to a strengthening of state powers that translates into a push towards reforms and the centralization of law; reforms that find space both within monarchical systems of absolutist model, such as the Habsburg Empire, both within societies in deep transformation, such as France invested with revolutionary experience.

Teaching methods

The teaching will be provided in the presence of lectures and with the use of multimedia media (slides in Powerpoint) prepared by the teacher in order to schematize the contents and the most relevant passages of the topics. The course will be taught in italian language. Slides are made available to students on the Dolly platform. Being a Blended course, recordings of all the lessons of the course are also deposited on the same platform, which students can follow, in addition to presence, also in streaming or asynchronous mode. Learning is also supported by the availability of 20 recorded "video-pills" dedicated to summarizing the main topics of the study program. The course will take place in the second semester of the 2023-24 academic year. Attendance is not mandatory, but strongly recommended, in the ways specified above, in order to acquire a better awareness of the content of the subject and to be able to verify in direct comparison with the teacher, in the classroom, at reception or even via and-mail, any passages and contents that are not clear enough.

Assessment methods

The exams will take place in presence and will be held according to the Academic Calendar. Students are required to enrol for the exams through the esse3 platform. The exam will be held in the form of an interview lasting about 30 minutes focusing on the learning of the course contents in the light of the stated training objectives. The examination of articulates in at least three questions on different contents and parts of the study program. The questions are intended to assess the independent ability of each candidate to deal with the proposed topics in a sufficiently comprehensive manner. Other important evaluation criteria will be critical knowledge of the topics covered, the ability to formulate links between the acquired knowledge, the ability to argue using an appropriate historical-legal language. The lack of knowledge of topics and content fundamental to the subject may determine the failure of the exam. No mid-term evaluations are foreseen.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding skills:
at the end of the course students will have acquired a sufficient knowledge of the topics that make up the study program.

Knowledge and critical understanding:
at the end of the course students who have carefully followed the lessons and have deepened the subject through the manual indicated will be able to connect the salient profiles of the legal culture with the historical-social dynamics of reference, as a function of a more mature and complete understanding of legal phenomena.

Autonomy of judgment:
at the end of the course students will be able to move with sufficient autonomy in the panorama of the contents of the program using a critical approach to the topics studied and an ability to make logical links between them.

Communication skills:
at the end of the course, students will have acquired more mature skills in the field of mastering the Italian language, expositive clarity and argumentative consistency applied to the specific historical-legal, but useful for any communication needs in the future work space.

Ability to learn:
at the end of the course, students will have developed skills of historical and comparative contextualization essential for an adequate learning of the positive law in force thanks to the deepening of the other subjects provided by the course of study.


Gli studenti frequentanti e non frequentanti sono tenuti a studiare il seguente testo:

Antonio PADOA SCHIOPPA, Storia del diritto in Europa. Dal medioevo all’età contemporanea, Bologna, Il Mulino, 2016, pp. 85-494 (Parte II, Parte III e Parte IV).
Sono esclusi i seguenti capitoli:
cap. 17: "Chiese e stati assoluti"
cap. 20: "Dotttrina giuridica e professioni legali"
cap. 24: "Giuristi del Settecento"
cap. 26: "Il diritto inglese (secoli XVI-XVIII)
cap. 30: "L'età napoleonica"