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Prof. Dr. Andreas Thier
Universität Zürich
Rämistrasse 74/11
CH-8001 Zürich

E-Mail: fhi@rwi.uzh.ch

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PhD position: The Rise of Public Law and the Re-Constitution of the Habsburg Netherlands

17. Dezember 2019

Full-time PhD position at KU Leuven, Division for Roman Law and Legal History

Apply before: Saturday, February 15, 2020

This PhD position is part of the interdisciplinary research project “Innovation through Education: Pioneering Change in Law and Theology in Louvain’s Golden Age”. The project is led by an interdisciplinary team of KU Leuven researchers consisting of LECTIO members Prof Wim Decock (Roman Law and Legal History, spokesperson), Prof Wouter Druwé (Roman Law and Legal History), Prof Randall Lesaffer (Roman Law and Legal History), Dr An Smets (KU Leuven Libraries) and Prof Violet Soen (Early Modern History), with the support of Prof Mark Depauw (Ancient History/Digital Humanities), Prof Wim François (History of Church and Theology) and Prof Jan Papy (Latin Literature). The successful candidate will be affiliated to the Department of Roman Law and Legal History at KU Leuven's Faculty of Law (https://www.law.kuleuven.be/romrecht/engels). For more information about LECTIO, please visit http://lectio.ghum.kuleuven.be/.

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The Dutch Revolt put questions of the constitutional and political order of the Netherlands at the centre of academic and public debate during early 17th century. The question of the international legitimacy of the Revolt spurred interest in the laws of war and peace. The secession of the northern provinces from the Habsburg conglomerate in the Netherlands fostered debate on the reconstitution of the Habsburg ‘state’ in the Southern Netherlands, first under the Archdukes Albert and Isabel (1598-1621), and then under the restored Spanish regime after Albert’s death. The Leuven faculty of secular law and its professors rose to the challenge of the reconstitution of the Habsburg state, with its implied need for legally-trained officials who were attuned to the changing context, by exploring novel pathways in the understanding and teaching of the learned, Roman law.  The project on two leading Leuven law professors from the early 17th century: Petrus Gudelinus (1550-1620) and Antonius Peresius (1583-1672). The research project aims to map and analyse three major innovations in the teaching and study of law. Firstly, in line with a wider European movement, the Leuven law professors pioneered the gradual emergence and gradual emancipation of public law, and its international pendant the law of nations, into autonomous legal categories. Secondly, it will be assessed whether and to what extent these Leuven law authors operated a theory and discourse of natural law as part of a strategy to define, defend or limit royal authority in relation to individual rights. Thirdly, there is the role of the influence of the humanist revival at Leuven on the Leuven jurisprudence to consider.

This vacancy is part of the large-scale project "Innovation through Education. Pioneering Change in Law and Theology during Leuven's Golden Age”, which will be conducted by 5 PhD students and their supervisors in the Faculties of Arts, Law and Theology. It investigates how Louvain professors in law and theology during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries adapted the content and methods of their teaching to the changing needs of society, in order to prepare the future elites for tackling the religious, political and economic challenges of their time. The source material consists of student notes that will be compared with printed material such as treatises and textbooks of the professors involved.


• You have a master's degree in law, history, Latin language and literature or equivalent, with excellent results. Students who will obtain their master’s degree in 2020 are invited to apply.

• You have an interest in the history of constitutional and international law.

• You are able to read printed and/or written historical sources from the new era.

• You have good Latin skills or are willing to brush them up.

• You have good paleographic skills or are willing to acquire them.

• You have a good command of modern languages (oral and written), especially of English, French, German and Italian. Knowledge of Spanish is an asset.

• You are prepared to carry out library and archive research in Belgium and abroad. 

• You are good at dealing with deadlines. 

• You are communicative, creative, cooperative and interdisciplinary, given the team-based character of the project. 

• You will be present at your office in Leuven several days a week.


The net amount of the scholarship will be approx. 2000 euro/month, depending on age, professional experience and family status; in addition, the fellowship provides for social and health benefits, office space and a benchfee for research expenses.

Subject to positive evaluation after the first year and the second year, the scholarship has a total duration of 48 months (1+1+2).

The start date of the doctoral position is negotiable, but should not be later than 1 September 2020.

KU Leuven offers a wide variety of courses for PhD candidates, a minimum of which must be followed as part of the compulsory doctoral training program, the specific content of which may vary from one faculty to another.

The PhD candidates will benefit from a unique experience in an interdisciplinary environment with junior and senior experts in the fields of book history, digital humanities, history of law, history of church and theology, early modern history, religious history, and philology.


For more information please contact Prof. dr. Randall Lesaffer, tel.: +32 16 32 53 32, mail: randall.lesaffer@kuleuven.be or Prof. dr. Wim Decock, tel.: +32 16 32 52 39, mail: wim.decock@kuleuven.be.

You can apply for this job no later than February 15, 2020 via the online application tool

KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at diversiteit.HR@kuleuven.be.

Link to job offer on KU Leuven Jobsite

(ref. BAP-2019-770)