Law and Society

Course Code: HIST 240

Academic Year: 2023-2024

What does the word "law" mean? The history of the western legal system is intimately connected to the development of democracy itself, but laws were an important part of other non-democratic societies, and this history has also shaped modern conceptions of law. The story of law begins with the earliest human societies, when ancient rulers attempted to foster order by codifying what people were permitted to do along with measures to settle grievances. Religions, too, contributed to the development of law and the Ten Commandments remain today not only an example of early law but a formulation of law that still influences modern law. Other influences can be traced to Greece and Rome as well as to the medieval period when the elements of the English Common Law system were first developed. This course will examine this heritage of our laws, and students will learn how modern legal systems have come to understand law as not only a way of securing the rights of the individual but also a system for limiting the powers of governments.