Ad fontes: Reassessing Legal Humanism and its Claims

Karen Baston (Invited speaker)

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in workshop, seminar, course


'Humanist Books and Lawyers' Libraries in Early Eighteenth Century Scotland: Charles Areskine of Alva's Library' Abstract: Charles Areskine of Alva (1680-1763) was the first Regius Professor of the Law of Nature and Nations at the University of Edinburgh as well as a successful advocate and judge who was involved in law for more than five decades. His private library brought together centuries of legal learning and cultural heritage. He began to record his library in 1731 and he collected books until his death. His library contained not only the books he needed to practice his profession but also more which show his interest in the sources and theory of law. His interest in humanist scholarship is clear from his collection of legal books and from his selection of 'miscellaneous' texts which included works by Scottish and international humanists of the previous centuries. Lawyers of Areskine's generation began their book collecting as students steeped in a long tradition of humanist learning. Many of them travelled, especially to the Netherlands, then the centre of the book producing world, for their legal studies. While abroad they absorbed continental culture. Legal textbooks, language and travel guides, and collections of poetry and historical writings all came back with lawyers as they returned to Scotland to take their places as leaders of society.
Period8 Jun 2013
Event typeConference
LocationEdinburgh, United Kingdom


  • Legal humanism
  • Areskine of Alva
  • library history
  • book collecting