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Legal History Commons

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Yale Law School

2005

Law and Society

Articles 1 - 1 of 1

Full-Text Articles in Legal History

From St. Ives To Cyberspace: The Modern Distortion Of The Medieval 'Law Merchant', Stephen E. Sachs Mar 2005

From St. Ives To Cyberspace: The Modern Distortion Of The Medieval 'Law Merchant', Stephen E. Sachs

Student Scholarship Papers

Modern advocates of corporate self-regulation have drawn unlikely inspiration from the Middle Ages. On the traditional view of history, medieval merchants who wandered from fair to fair were not governed by domestic laws, but by their own lex mercatoria, or "law merchant." This law, which uniformly regulated commerce across Europe, was supposedly produced by an autonomous merchant class, interpreted in private courts, and enforced through private sanctions rather than state coercion. Contemporary writers have treated global corporations as descendants of these itinerant traders, urging them to replace conflicting national laws with a law of their own creation. The standard history ...