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Max Planck Institute for Legal History and Legal Theory


Professor Dr Marietta Auer MA, LLM, SJD (Harvard)
Professor Dr Thomas Duve
Professor Stefan Vogenauer Mjur (Oxford)

Research Areas

Department Marietta Auer

Department Marietta Auer is dedicated to the research and formulation of multidisciplinary theory of law. The profile of the research pursued in the department consists in the multidisciplinary approaches to questions, in particular, of private legal-theoretical and private legal-doctrinal nature, which take into consideration the sociological, philosophical, historical, economic, cultural and natural scientific research dimensions on the law and theoretically reflects on them.

  • Law in Modernity
  • Multidisciplinary Theory of Law and Private Law Theory
  • Theory of Legal Science and the History of Legal Scholarship
Department Thomas Duve

The Department’s researchers investigate regimes of normativity in the European Middle Ages and the early modern and modern periods. Our work is based on a broad conception of normativity, and we understand the history of law and of other normative regimes (for example, religious ones) as a continuous process of the translation of normative knowledge. We see the theoretically informed reconstruction of these processes as a particular challenge of current legal historical research that critically develops its national and transnational traditions. A focus on ‘regimes’ of normativity permits us to analyse historical constellations of norms, institutions and practices in their dynamic interaction and in a way that is open to global historical perspectives. Our research on historical regimes of normativity builds on the findings of the earlier Research Foci on ‘Multinormativity’, ‘Translation’ and ‘Legal Spaces’, on research projects studying historical regulatory regimes and, last but not least, on the reflections regarding legal histories in global historical and knowledge historical perspectives that have been developed at the Institute in recent years.

  • Religious and Secular Legal Cultures of the European Middle Ages
  • Curia, Canon Law and Moral Theology in the Modern Era
  • Iberian Worlds
  • The History of Criminal Law, Crime and Criminal Justice
  • Special Legal Orders
  • Historical Regimes of Normative Knowledge
Department Stefan Vogenauer

Department Stefan Vogenauer explores the European and comparative dimensions of legal history. With regard to the former, it currently has a particular interest in the Legal History of the European Union. With regard to the latter, its present focus is on Legal Transfer in the Common Law World, ie the interaction of English law with the laws and customs of the various parts of the British Empire from the 18th to the mid-20th century.

European and comparative legal history cannot be neatly separated, as is obvious from a third Research Field of the Department which explores Private Law and Dispute Resolution in a Historical, Comparative and Transnational Perspective. This builds on the Institute’s previous work and adds to the doctrinal history of European private law, particularly during the ius commune and thereafter. In a similar vein, the Department retains a strong interest in the history of Sources of Law and Legal Methods across different legal systems and traditions.

Another distinction that is difficult to maintain is that between legal history and contemporary law. Research projects in Department Stefan Vogenauer therefore approach historical phenomena with a keen interest in their contemporary relevance.

  • Legal History of the European Union
  • Legal Transfer in the Common Law World
  • Private Law and Dispute Resolution in a Historical‚ Comparative and Transnational Perspective
  • Sources of Law and Legal Methods

Joining the Institute

Each year the Max Planck Institute for European Legal History welcomes numerous researchers and stipend-holders from around the world, who wish to take advantage of the excellent working environment, come into contact with other researchers, as well as access the MPI library and its specialist literature.

Beyond the Guest Programme, “support contracts” offer employment at the Institute for a period of three years to work on a doctoral dissertation. We also offer postdoctoral fellowships to enable highly qualified foreign researchers holding a doctoral degree to pursue budding research projects in a stimulating environment.

For further information and application please visit the Insitutes’s website:https://www.lhlt.mpg.de/en.


Max Planck Institute for Legal History and Legal Theory

Hansaallee 41 
60323 Frankfurt am Main

Tel: +49 69 789 78 – 0
Fax: +49 69 789 78 – 169


For information on the Guest Programme:


For information on support contracts ans supervision of doctoral students:


For information on the visitor’s programme:


For information on additional grant opportunities:


For information on the Summer Academy:


For information on study sessions:


To enquire about applying as a visitor, doctoral student, or postdoctoral fellow:

Dr Stefanie Rüther
Research Coordinator

Phone: +49 (69) 789 78 – 190
Fax: +49 (69) 789 78 – 169