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Land, Law and Literature in France 1643-1789

   The Business School

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  Dr L Dodd, Prof Richard Whitecross  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

This project will examine the evolution of land law and systems of tenure in France during the period
between the Wars of Religion and the Revolution. It is widely recognised that Louis XIV saw France’s
lingering feudal tradition as a threat to his absolutist vision of the French state; equally, it remains true
that feudal law and tenure endured, in some forms, until the Revolution of 1789. Core elements of the
project will involve the analysis of emergent “national” legal literature and its relationship to existing
sources of law, many of which predate the emergence of the modern French polity. The challenges
posed by feudalism for the political thought and practice of the French monarchy will be considered, as
will feudal law’s enduring relevance.

Neither the specific region(s) studied nor the methodologies of this project are prescribed, but it is
envisioned that analysis of French legal literature of the period will be central to the project. Research
will focus on the emergence of municipal/national legal literatures which supplants or complements the
existing structures of customary and feudal law, with consideration of the challenges which feudalism
posed for the Bourbon state of Louis XIV and his successors.

Academic qualifications
A first degree (at least a 2.1) ideally in Law or History with a good fundamental knowledge of relevant

English language requirement
IELTS score must be at least 6.5 (with not less than 6.0 in each of the four components). Other,
equivalent qualifications will be accepted. Full details of the University’s policy are available online.

Essential attributes:
 Experience of fundamental research skills relating to law and/or legal history.
 Competent in analysis of literary and/or historical sources.
 Knowledge of French language and modern European legal history.
 Good written and oral communication skills
 Strong motivation, with evidence of independent research skills relevant to the project
 Good time management

Desirable attributes:
Masters degree in a cognate subject.
Reading knowledge of at least one modern language in addition to French.
At least basic understanding of Latin.
Familiarity with legal humanism.

Funding Notes

This is a self-funded project.


Brewer & S Staves (eds.), Early Modern Conceptions of Property (2014)
A E Bakos, Politics, Ideology and the Law in Early Modern Europe (1994)
J G A Pocock, The Ancient Constitution and the Feudal Law (1957)
P L Lewis, Essays in Later Medieval French History (1985)
R H Bloch, Medieval French Literature and Law (1977)
C G Nauert, Humanism and the Culture of Renaissance Europe (2006)
M Bellomo, The Common Legal Past of Europe (1995)
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