European jurisprudence and the intellectual origins of the Greek state: the Greek jurists and liberal reforms (ca 1830‐1880).
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This thesis builds on, and contributes to recent scholarship on the history of nineteenth‐century liberalism by exploring Greek legal thought and its political implications during the first decades after independence from the Ottomans (ca.1830‐1880). Protagonists of this work of intellectual history are the Greek jurists—a small group of very influential legal scholars—most of whom flocked to the Greek kingdom right after its establishment. By focusing on their theoretical contributions and public action, the thesis has two major contentions. First, it shows that the legal, political and economic thought of the jurists was not only conversant with Continental liberal currents of the Restoration, but, due to the particular local context, made original contributions to liberalism. Indeed, Greek liberals shared a lot with their counterparts in France, Italy and Germany, not least the belief that liberty originated in law and the state and not against them. Another shared feature was the distinction between the elitist liberal variant of the ‘Romanist’ civil lawyers such as Pavlos Kalligas, and the more ‘radical moderate’ version of Ioannis Soutsos and Nikolaos Saripolos. At the same time, the Greek liberals, seeking not to terminate but to institutionalize the Greek revolution, tuned to the radical language of natural rights (of persons and states) and national sovereignty. This language, which sought to control the rulers, put more contestation in power and expand political participation gained wide currency during the crisis of the 1850s, which exposed also the precarious place of Greece in the geography of European civilization. The second contention of the thesis is that this ‘transformation of thought’, informed the ‘long revolution’ of the 1860s and the new system of power this latter established. By so doing, it shows that liberal jurisprudence provided the intellectual foundations upon which the modern Greek state was build.
- Theses