Rhetoric, Language and Roman Law: Legal Education and Improvement in Eighteenth-Century Scotland

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Education in law in the Scottish universities has a continuous history only from the early eighteenth century. In 1707, the regius professorship of public law and the law of nature and nations was founded in Edinburgh, to be followed in 1710 and 1722 by professorships in civil (Roman) and Scots law respectively. In the University of Glasgow, the regius professorship of civil law was established in late 1713 and first filled in 1714. These developments were not entirely novel. Throughout the seventeenth century, there had been regular, if unsuccessful, attempts to create university chairs in law. While the background to the foundation of the university chairs requires further careful study, we may note that, by at least around 1690, it was thought desirable to introduce the teaching of both civil and Scots law, though the notion of teaching both does go back at least as far as the First Book of Discipline of 1561. After the visitation of the University of Edinburgh that resulted from the political and religious settlements of 1688–89, it was proposed to establish a single professorship to teach both civil and Scots law. This proposal in the late seventeenth century is in line with general developments throughout Europe. Nothing, however, was done, probably because no person or body was willing to finance a chair.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-58
Number of pages28
JournalLaw and History Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1991


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