Henry James Sumner Maine Quotes

It is true that the aristocracies seem to have abused their monopoly of legal knowledge; and at all events their exclusive possession of the law was a formidable impediment to the success of those popular movements which began to be universal in the western world.

 
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Henry James Sumner Maine
Henry James Sumner Maine
  • Born: August 15, 1822
  • Died: February 3, 1888
  • Nationality: British
  • Profession: Historian

Sir Henry James Sumner Maine, KCSI, was a British Whig comparative jurist and historian. He is famous for the thesis outlined in his book Ancient Law that law and society developed "from status to contract." According to the thesis, in the ancient world individuals were tightly bound by status to traditional groups, while in the modern one, in which individuals are viewed as autonomous agents, they are free to make contracts and form associations with whomever they choose. Because of this thesis, Maine can be seen as one of the forefathers of modern legal anthropology, legal history and sociology of law.