Friedrich Karl Savigny

Friedrich Karl Savigny

German jurist and historian
Date of Birth: 21.02.1779
Country: Germany

  1. Biography of Friedrich Karl Savigny
  2. Works on Roman Law
  3. The Historical School of Jurisprudence
  4. Philosophical Position

Biography of Friedrich Karl Savigny

Friedrich Karl Savigny (1779–1861) was a German jurist and historian who held the position of Prussian Minister of Legislation. He was born in Frankfurt-on-Main on February 21, 1779, and began his teaching career in Marburg. From 1810 to 1842, he served as a professor at the University of Berlin. During his tenure, he also held the position of Prussian Minister of Legislation. Savigny retired in 1848 and passed away in Berlin on October 25, 1861.

Works on Roman Law

Savigny's works on Roman law include "History of Roman Law in the Middle Ages" (Geschichte des rmischen Rechts im Mittelalter, 6 vol., 1815–1831), "The Right of Possession" (Das Recht des Besitzes, 1803), and "System of Modern Roman Law" (System des heutigen rmischen Rechts, 8 vol., 1840–1849). Throughout the 19th century, Savigny's ideas influenced the development of Western European and, to a lesser extent, Anglo-American jurisprudence.

The Historical School of Jurisprudence

Savigny's main thesis of the historical school is outlined in his work "On the Vocation of Our Age for Legislation and Jurisprudence" (Vom Beruf unserer Zeit fr Gesetzgebung und Rechtswissenschaft, 1814, revised edition 1828), as well as in his introductory article in the "Journal of Historical Jurisprudence" ("Zeitschrift fr geschichtliche Rechtswissenschaft", published from 1815–1850). According to the historical school, law is not an arbitrary product of legislation but a result of the spiritual and historical experience of the people. Therefore, it should not be changed solely through legislation but should be reformed gradually and "organically."

Philosophical Position

The historical school viewed law as an expression of the "spirit of the people" (Volksgeist) and was a reaction to the legalistic approach to law that prevailed in Germany in the early 19th century. The school believed that judges and legal practitioners were superior to legislators and legislation. They also emphasized the importance of community norms, customs, and moral values over "rationally speculative" written laws. The historical school made significant contributions to Western European legal thought by introducing these corrections.