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Please join us for a work in progress session with papers by Elon Heijmans on murder and the origins of law in the ancient Mediterranean and Alex Collin on decision-making in early modern Bremen.
Event details of Murder and the Origins of Law in the Ancient Mediterranean & Decision-Making Procedures in Early Modern Bremen
15 February 2024
15:30 -17:00

Murder and the Origins of Law in the Ancient Mediterranean
How and from what point(s) of departure did the law develop in the early first millennium BCE Mediterranean? The earliest extant written laws from ancient Greece show an emphasis on procedural aspects. Preceding this still, early customary laws likely provided a framework for the settlement of disputes within emerging urban communities. Focusing on homicide law as the ultimate and original example of intra-communal dispute, Elon Heijmans will argue that in response to the social risk posed by blood-feud, these communities employed monetary recompense and exile as legal measures. When concepts of pollution came to be associated with murder, the adjudication of recompense appears to have been replaced by exile as a formal punishment.

Decision-Making Procedures in Early Modern Bremen  
How much freedom did officials in early modern cities have when it came to decision making? To what extant did the rules and procedures of their office constrain them? And, in so far as they were free to decide, what did officials want to achieve? In this paper, based on the third chapter of his PhD thesis, Alexander Collin examines the ways in which Hanseatic city governments reached decisions in the sixteenth and seventeenth century. Based on the evidence of council books held at the Bremen State Archive, the paper highlights procedural continuities in decision-making practices across a range of issues from infrastructure to commerce to public health. By reconsidering the council books in this way, the paper provides evidence of a pragmatic political culture, oriented toward substantive problem solving, and only marginally occupied with symbolic and communicative issues. In doing so, it challenges prevailing accounts of pre-modern governmental decision-making, which have interpreted decisions principally as sites of status negotiation and symbolic communication.  

All are welcome to join us for drinks and dinner afterwards.

Bushuis/Oost-Indisch Huis

Room F0.01
Kloveniersburgwal 48 (hoofdingang)
1012 CX Amsterdam