AN EMPIRE OF LIGHT? LEARNING AND LAWMAKING IN THE HISTORY OF GERMAN LAW
|Stefan Vogenauer a1|
a1 University of Oxford
JOHN Austin, having spent the winter term of 1827/28 in the idyllic and peaceful Rhenanian university town of Bonn, far away from the bustle of London and the irritating failures he had suffered at the chancery bar, was unrivalled in his admiration for the modern version of Roman law as it had been interpreted, refined and further developed by the German scholars of his time. It was, he exclaimed, “greatly and palpably superior, considered as a whole, to the law of England. Turning from the study of the English to the study of the Roman law, you escape from the empire of chaos and darkness, to a world that seems by comparison, the region of order and light”. How he longed to be as acknowledged and as influential as one of the great expositors of that law. “I was born out of time and place”, he is reported to have lamented, “I ought to have been a schoolman of the twelfth century—or a German professor”. His desire was rather understandable, given that the nineteenth century English law professors regarded themselves as “a feeble folk.