Max Planck Institute for Legal History and Legal Theory

Max Planck Institute for Legal History and Legal Theory

The researchers of the Max Planck Institute for Legal History and Legal Theory (formerly Max Planck Institute for European Legal History) study the historical forms of law in a global-historical as well as comparative perspective, and legal theory in a multidisciplinary context. Central issues are the constitution, legitimation, transformation and practice of law, with particular attention being paid to positioning historical forms of ‘law’ in the context of other normative orders. The establishment of a department engaged in developing a multidisciplinary legal theory in 2020 substantially expands the Institute's engagement with issues of legal theory.

The Institute considers its most important task to consist in engaging in theoretically reflected historical research in the field of law and other forms of normativity in order to make a specific contribution to fundamental research in legal scholarship, the social sciences and humanities.

Contact

Hansaallee 41
60323 Frankfurt am Main
Phone: +49 69 78978-0
Fax: +49 69 78978-169

PhD opportunities

This institute has no International Max Planck Research School (IMPRS).

There is always the possibility to do a PhD. Please contact the directors or research group leaders at the Institute.

Department Multidisciplinary Theory of Law

more

Department Historical Regimes of Normativity

more

Department European and Comparative Legal History

more

Marietta Auer and Iain Couzin are awarded the Leibniz Prize 2022 of the German Research Foundation DFG

more

An interview with Raquel Sirotti, doctoral researcher at the Max Planck Institute For European Legal History, about the environmental policies of the Bolsonaro government

more

The battle for women’s rights in Brazil is entering a new round

more

How clerics used simple rulebooks to establish the new legal order in Spanish America

more

Mentoring programme of the Max Planck Society launches new website

more
Show more

For the past 70 years, the German Basic Law has guaranteed the independence of judges, whose decisions are “subject only to the law.” But aren’t there other influences at play? Legal scholars Konrad Duden from the Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law in Hamburg and Jasper Kunstreich from the Max Planck Institute for European Legal History in Frankfurt am Main have researched this question and come up with some astonishing answers.

The Europeans have plenty of experience of dealing with crises. If we take a look at the history of the community of European states, one thing becomes clear: more or less heated controversies have been a regular occurrence over the decades. However, it has always been possible to find strategies for overcoming them, as the team headed by Stefan Vogenauer at the Max Planck Institute for European Legal History in Frankfurt/Main is finding out in the course of its research. During the process, the researchers have also gained new insights into the current state of the European Union.

The Spanish Conquistadors found it surprisingly easy to conquer the New World. However, it required more than violence and cruelty to rule the territory. A team of researchers headed by Thomas Duve at the Max Planck Institute for European Legal History is investigating the media through which the Spanish crown consolidated its dominion. Meanwhile, an international research group led by Carolin Behrmann at the Max Planck Institute for Art History in Florence is studying the importance of images in the consolidation and legitimation of law with a focus on Early Modern European history.

No job offers available

Pictures of our heroes: Do you know Eugen Ehrlich?

2021 Seinecke, Ralf

Cultural Studies Jurisprudence

Researchers can become heroes, and not just when their expertise is in high demand and they attain a level of notoriety through media attention. To this day, the jurist Eugen Ehrlich is still viewed as a role model and guiding figure in many senses: while some take him to be the ‘founder of legal sociology’, others see him as the ‘forefather of legal pluralism’. For Ralf Seinecke, however, these images of the heroes of science should be taken with caution. While they are certainly important and groundbreaking figures, these picture or images also elude the categories of true and false.

more

Mapping out the contract laws of Asia

2020 Vogenauer, Stefan

Cultural Studies Jurisprudence

The research project Studies in the Contract Laws of Asia provides the first thorough overview of the laws of contract in 14 jurisdictions stretching from India in the West to Japan in the East. In their entirety, these account for nearly half of the world’s population and much of its economic power. Coordinated by the University of Oxford and the Max Planck Institute for Legal History and Legal Theory, the project involves some 150 legal scholars from all over Asia and is thus one of the most comprehensive contemporary projects in comparative law.

more

Glocalizing Normativites

2019 Duve, Thomas

Cultural Studies Jurisprudence

The existential challenges currently facing the world – climate change, migrations, pandemics – can only be met through global cooperation. But are we able to agree on global rules? – The study of history reveals the fundamentals of an international language of law on which we can draw. Centuries-long encounters between peoples from all over the world, often tragic and characterized by violence and asymmetries, resulted in processes of cultural translation and localization of normative knowledge. The aim of the project “Glocalizing Normativities” is to better understand these mechanisms.

more

The project at the Max Planck Institute for European Legal History investigates the history of transnational criminal law with a focus on cross-border political crime, extradition, asylum and police cooperation. One research question is how current problems of transnational criminal law can be explained in terms of legal history.

more

Decision-making cultures in the legal history of the European Union

2017 Bajon, Philip

Cultural Studies Jurisprudence

European Union history was characterized by an underlying process of legal integration. At the same time, member state governments increased their political control of the integration process. In this context, the so-called “Luxembourg Compromise” of 1966 established an informal veto right in the European Communities. Member states claimed “national interests” to avoid a vote. Political and legal debates over the veto right crystallized different conceptions of European Union and their change over time.

more
Go to Editor View