Rudolf Sohm and his influences on the definition of the law of property in the middle ages. A reinterpretation of ownership in Transilvania


  • Mihai Safta University of Babeș-Bolyai (Romania)


law of property, Transylvania, possession, influences of canon and roman law, Rudolph Sohm


This article addresses firstly the terminological problems modern historians encounter when discussing the law of property in the Middle Ages, and how its decontextualization has led to numerous inaccurate studies in the field of legal history, and secondly it is dedicated to Rudolph Sohm and his interpretation of the law of property and how his idea of institutional law can be applied to the medieval institutions of Transylvania in the early 14th century. Rudolph Sohm considers in his work Outlines of Church History that in the Middle Ages, society was composed of only two classes, the nobility and the clergy. They alone possessed property and they alone ruled. He describes landed property as the only kind of property recognized in that period. It is interesting to investigate in light of recent studies how political authority went hand in hand with the possession of land, and how were the classes defined by Sohm identified with and within the nation or the realm. His classification is still used by many Hungarian and Romanian historians, and we argue against the use of the modern concept of property and offer a new definition for the numerous and various types of possession we encounter. Was the history of the nation their history? What defines the society in the Middle Ages? Is Sohm’s definition of medieval property still functional correlated with the new developments in legal history? These are several questions that this research aims to answer by investigating the roman and medieval terminology used to define possession and nobility in 13th and 14th century Transylvania.


Keywords: law of property; Transylvania; possession; influences of canon and roman law; Rudolph Sohm.


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How to Cite

Safta, M. (2018). Rudolf Sohm and his influences on the definition of the law of property in the middle ages. A reinterpretation of ownership in Transilvania. Vergentis. Revista De Investigación De La Cátedra Internacional Conjunta Inocencio III, 1(6), 267–278. Retrieved from

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