This treatise on the study of early municipal institutions, first published in 1861, has been likened, in its influence and importance, to Darwin's Origin of Species. With this slim volume, Maine, one of the most brilliant classical scholars of his day, created a natural history of law by demonstrating that our notion of legality is as much the product of historical development as biological organisms are the outcome of evolution. Through an intense focus on the contribution of Roman code to modern jurisprudence, Maine explores early ideas about property, wills, contracts, and crime. This is a pioneering work of legal history, one that has had an immeasurable effect not only on our understanding of ancient concepts of justice and punishment but on the view of civilization itself as an arrangement of public rules and statutes. English lawyer and historian SIR HENRY JAMES SUMNER MAINE (1822-1888) lectured on legal issues at Oxford and Cambridge and contributed to the codification of law in India. His works include Village Communities in the East and the West, The Early History of Institutions, and Popular Government.
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