Scholarship 2024 – Communicating the Law in Europe (1500-1750)

Two fully funded PhD studentships are available at the University of St Andrews to work as part of the ERC-selected/UKRI-funded project ‘Communicating the Law in Europe, 1500-1750’, under the supervision of the Principal Investigator, Dr Arthur der Weduwen. The project investigates how law was communicated in early modern Europe (c. 1500-1750), and what impact this had on European society.

The PhD studentships will begin in September 2024, will be based in the School of History at the University of St Andrews (with significant periods to be spent on research abroad), and will last for four years. 

These PhD studentships offer the successful applicants the exciting prospect of combining the pursuit of an independently researched thesis exploring a particular dimension of legal and political communication in early modern Europe with the opportunity to work collaboratively within a research team and to contribute to co-authored publications and the organisation of scholarly conferences.

The ‘Communicating the Law in Europe, 1500-1750’ project has been awarded a grant of €1.4 million by the European Research Council and is funded as part of the UKRI’s Frontier Research Guarantee scheme.  It will run for five years, from 1 January 2024 to 31 December 2028, and is led by the Principal Investigator, Dr Arthur der Weduwen.

The COMLAWEU project is the first to investigate comparatively how law was communicated to citizens and subjects by the authorities in early modern Europe (1500-1750). It pursues an original comparative study of the publication and circulation of municipal, regional and national law, encompassing oral communication, ceremonial proclamations and the employment of criers, as well as the affixing, distribution and sale of law texts, in manuscript and printed form.

Based on extensive archival research, this project will seek to establish for the first time to what extent the increasing body of law that was issued in early modern Europe was made publicly available, and in what forms.

The project seeks to add a new and much-needed perspective to the study of European politics in a critical era of state formation, framing the communication of law as an essential stabilising factor in an era of highly participatory but undemocratic politics.

This project will offer multiple comparative frameworks through which the communication of law will be studied, including Protestant and Catholic states, urban and rural areas, and empires, national kingdoms and city-states.

With the aid of such a comparative lens, it is an overarching aim of the project to analyse how the public dissemination of law shaped early modern civic society and influenced political participation and accountability.

The project team, led by the PI and comprising two postdoctoral research assistants and two PhD students, will work collaboratively, using a series of comparative case studies based on European regions to explore and reveal the complex ways in which European authorities communicated with their citizens and subjects.

Further details about this opportunity can be found on the School of History postgraduate funding page.

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