The Rule of Laws (Hardback)

A 4000-year Quest to Order the World

Fernanda Pirie

From ancient Mesopotamia to today, the epic story of how humans have used laws to forge civilizations

The laws now enforced throughout the world are almost all modelled on systems developed in Europe in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. During two hundred years of colonial rule, Europeans exported their laws everywhere they could. But they weren't filling a void: in many places, they displaced traditions that were already ancient when Vasco Da Gama first arrived in India. Even the Romans were inspired by earlier precedents.

Where, then, did it all begin? And what has law been and done over the course of human history? In The Rule of Laws, pioneering anthropologist Fernanda Pirie traces the development of the world's great legal systems - Chinese, Indian, Roman, and Islamic - and the innumerable smaller traditions they inspired. At the heart of the story is a paradox: how did the pronouncements of the powerful became a vital weapon in ordinary people's fight for justice?

Publication date: 18/11/2021

£25.00

ISBN: 9781788163026

Imprint: Profile Books

Subject: History & Classics

The Rule of Laws (Ebook)

A 4000-year Quest to Order the World

Fernanda Pirie

Preorder from

From ancient Mesopotamia to today, the epic story of how humans have used laws to forge civilizations

The laws now enforced throughout the world are almost all modelled on systems developed in Europe in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. During two hundred years of colonial rule, Europeans exported their laws everywhere they could. But they weren't filling a void: in many places, they displaced traditions that were already ancient when Vasco Da Gama first arrived in India. Even the Romans were inspired by earlier precedents.

Where, then, did it all begin? And what has law been and done over the course of human history? In The Rule of Laws, pioneering anthropologist Fernanda Pirie traces the development of the world's great legal systems - Chinese, Indian, Roman, and Islamic - and the innumerable smaller traditions they inspired. At the heart of the story is a paradox: how did the pronouncements of the powerful became a vital weapon in ordinary people's fight for justice?

Publication date: 18/11/2021

£15.99

ISBN: 9781782835806

ISBN 10 / ASIN: B08XK6Q8CP

Imprint: Profile Books

Subject: History & Classics

Reviews for The Rule of Laws

'

Fascinating, insightful and gripping, The Rule of Laws provides a comprehensive exploration of the history underpinning our modern legal systems. A triumph

'

The Secret Barrister 

'The Rule of Laws offers a pathbreaking and stimulating account of how societies across different regions and epochs drew upon secular, sacred, and scholarly traditions to create laws that organized the lives of their citizens ... This expansive narrative challenges what we think we know about legal history and the assumptions we make about law's future'

Edward J. Watts, author Mortal Republic: How Rome Fell into Tyranny

'The Rule of Laws is a fascinating, comprehensive study that forces us to think again about what law is, and why it matters ... For those who want to understand why human society has emerged as it has, this is essential reading'

Rana Mitter, author China's Good War

Fernanda Pirie

Fernanda Pirie

Fernanda Pirie is Professor of the Anthropology of Law at the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies at the University of Oxford, where she spent the past 10 years working with colleagues in history and anthropology looking at legal systems from throughout human history, comparing and contrasting, and charting their influence on the modern world. Prior to academia she was a practising barrister.