18 Stan. J. Int'l L. 123 (1982)
A Very German Legal Science: Savigny and the Historical School

handle is hein.journals/stanit18 and id is 135 raw text is: A Very German Legal Science:
Savigny and the Historical
School
Few intellectual movements have exerted a greater influence
upon the civil law world than did the nineteenth century Historical
School of German legal science. Yet the Historical School remains a
mystery, particularly in the common law world, perhaps because the
School's doctrine seems riddled with contradictions. Historical
School followers taught that law derives from the common con-
sciousness of a particular people and can, therefore, never be trans-
planted to another country; yet the Historical School produced a
revival of the study of Roman law in Germany - the so called Sec-
ond Reception' - which greatly influenced that country's Civil
Code (Birgerliches Geseazbuch) (BGB).2 Although School adherents be-
lieved that law evolves under the same influences which produce
changes in society at large, German legal science closed itself off from
contributions of nonlegal disciplines, such as sociology or economics,
so that the BGB stands as a monument to the autarchic isolation of
German legal science in the nineteenth century.3 Nevertheless, le-
gal science remains the most striking feature of contemporary civil
law jurisprudence.
This note attempts to reconcile these apparent contradictions by
setting out the principles of the Historical School, tracing their meta-
morphosis during the course of the nineteenth century, sketching the
relation of the School to other contemporary, nonlegal movements,
and, finally, pointing out the School's impact upon the BGB. This
method reflects the spirit of the Historical School, whose founder
wrote: [I]t is not a matter of choosing one and rejecting the other;
rather the task consists of resolving perceived opposites into a higher
All translations are by the author.
1 R. GMOR, SAVIGNY UND DIE ENTWICKLUNG DER RECHTSWISSENSCHAFT 33 (1962).
2 H. MrTrErs, DEUTSCHE RECHTSGESCHICHTE 312 (13th ed. H. Lieberich 1974).
3 Schwarz, John Austin and the Geman Jurisprudence of Hi Time, 1 POLITICA 178, 197
(1934).

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