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Copyright (c) 2002 Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois
Law and History Review

FORUM: CATALAN NATIONALISM AND CIVIL CODIFICATION IN NINETEENTH-CENTURY EUROPE: Law and Nationalism in Nineteenth-Century Europe: The Case of Catalonia in Comparative Perspective

Summer, 2002

20 Law & Hist. Rev. 307

Author

Stephen Jacobson

Excerpt

By the close of the nineteenth century, most continental Europeans tacitly accepted, if they thought about it at all, the notion that a civil code governed multiple personal and familial relationships in their daily lives. Like so many legislative structures, intellectual suppositions, and cultural artifacts, what was once regarded as a novel or even a major break with the past came to be understood as one of the many requisites of modernity. Contemporary historians have adopted a similarly indifferent posture, their curiosity only piqued when encountering specific provisions entangled with other political issues. In a strikingly dissimilar approach to that adopted toward penal law, they have been disinclined to explore the relationship between civil legal endeavor and political culture or the history of ideas. Only with respect to Germany have scholars considered these topics worthy of in-depth analysis; in so doing, they have demonstrated that understanding juridical culture is fundamental to appreciating the textures and peculiarities of the liberal nation state. 1 Spain, and in particular Catalonia, also provides an attractive setting for adopting a similar perspective. Here, the move toward codification of the civil law became intertwined with protonationalistic political controversies concerning the relationship between the region of Catalonia and the state of Spain. With respect to Catalonia, the historian has not had the luxury to take for granted outcomes with respect to the civil law.

From a comparative perspective, there are weighty reasons to regard Catalonia's legal history with curiosity, simply because it was one of the ...
 
 
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