Empires as Engines of Mixed Legal Systems
18 Pages Posted: 22 Aug 2017
Date Written: 2017
Nowhere else is the evolution of pluralism more accelerated than in the legal transformations brought about by assembling and managing empires. Whether Roman, Ottoman or English, Empires have been veritable engines of mixed and plural laws. This essay will suggest that mixed legal systems have been with us since antiquity and have been continually generated in conditions of increased social contact, commerce and communication between peoples. The incubation of mixed systems within empires suggests that legal mixing is unavoidable (and maintaining original purity unsustainable) when there is sufficient social and intellectual connection between peoples who fall under the same imperial sovereign. Different variables affect the speed and thoroughness of integration, for instance the social distance between cultures and civilizations, the prestige and rational appeal of the imperial law, and imperial policies which promote assimilation or seek to maintain separate laws for different peoples. Furthermore empires have distinctive purposes and devise distinctive strategies toward foreign laws. The Roman and Ottoman Empires clearly had different purposes and strategies and such differences have contributed to two forms of pluralism we find in the modern world.
Keywords: pluralism, empire, personal laws, mixed laws
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