So far, we have been looking at the work of humanist historians in the Renaissance and the new way in which they approached their subject. Not only did they use close reading of ancient texts, as you would expect, but they also did a lot of research in the archives. That is, they didn’t just read the historians that came before them, they looked for real documents. For example, they studied the records of cases that went to court, official letters that had survived, and so on to gel a fuller picture of how people really lived and went about their business.
These same techniques of historical research were used in what we can call “legal humanism”. The idea here was to get as accurate a picture as possible of the law and its practice in ancient, especially Roman, times. Legal historians did this with a view to refining the laws and applying them to the present historical situation. Legal scholarship’s original desire to recover and purify the heritage of the ancient world later came to be distorted by political views, but even here. in the 16′” century, such intense study could lead to unexpected conclusions. For example, in France, inquiries meant to uncover and apply the legal wisdom of the Romans ended by uncovering a Roman law so pure that it was totally alien. This law, in fact, belonged to the past and to a different society, and was therefore unusable.
What was the ultimate aim of legal scholarship?
a) To purify the ancient legal system.
b) To promote humanism in general.
c) To apply Roman law to their own society.
d) To perfect techniques of historical research
a) is incorrect because legal scholarship aimed to have an effect on the present, not on the past.
b) is incorrect because no mention is made of this idea.
d) is incorrect because no mention is made of the desire to perfect the methods of historical research.
c) is correct because the writer says: The idea here was to get as accurate a picture as possible of the law and its practice in ancient, especially Roman, times. Legal historians did this with a view to refining the laws and applying them to the present historical situation.