Ancient Verses on New Ideas: Legal Tradition and the French Historical School

History and Theory 26 (3):319-338 (1987)
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Romantic, po st- Revolutionary French historiography can be described as "ancient verses on new ideas." The "new history" of this period, with its antiquarian nature, shared more with its predecessors than its practitioners acknowledged. Historical and legal scholars of the Restoration belonged to a long intellectual tradition of a shared hermeneutical "community of interpretation," based on common origins, though not necessarily goals. A belief in the historical grounding of knowledge and judgment united Restoration historians and legal scholars to their predecessors. Debate over the origin of private property, the central human right advanced in the Napoleonic Code, united the two sorts of scholars, who examined the origins of the right of private property in the context of the history of laws, both Germanic and Roman. The establishment of private property proves to rest on the logic of feudalism, ironically overthrown in the Revolution while providing continuity in historiography before and after



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