Centre for Advanced Study

at the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters

Social Governance Through Legislation


Future 2021/2022 Social Sciences - Law


Despite the historical uniqueness, and the political, legal and social importance of the Code of the Norwegian Realm of 1274 (N: Landslova, short: 'Code of 1274'), and later legislation, it is virtually unstudied. We aim to produce empirical and comparative knowledge on how politics, law and society changed with the introduction of legislation as an instrument of governance in the High and Late Middle Ages. Legislation, governance and the legal situation for marginal groups was debated in Europe in the High Middle Ages. Legislation was used to expand legal rights, and this changed the character of governance and society, and hence the legal culture. In the Norwegian realm the comprehensive and long lasting legislation of King Magnus VI the Law Mender 1274-1281 had a large potential to cause such political, social and legal change.


In Social governance through legislation, we will investigate not only the legal situation for marginal groups, but how politics, law and society changed with the introduction of legislation as an instrument of governance in the Middle Ages. This will be done by examining the role of law in political rhetoric and dialogue, the structures of governance and appliance of law, and the legal situation for marginal groups in society. The Law played an increasing role as a symbol and foundation for a Norwegian society and kingdom throughout the Middle Ages. Through a legal cultural approach, the different subthemes will be linked together and compared with the situation in the other Nordic countries and Scotland, and in other legal regimes in the Middle Ages.


We also have an ambition to develop the methodology for studying legal historical change by using a legal cultural approach to link law in politics, structures of governance and substantial and procedural law, and to compare change in different legal entities. To this, there will be added an historiographical investigation of the methods applied as a critical correction.


  • Broun, Davuit
    Professor University of Glasgow 2021/2022
  • Davy, Gilduin
    Professor University of Paris Naterre 2021/2022
  • Heirbaut, Dirk
    Professor Ghent University 2021/2022
  • Korpiola, Mia Margareta
    Professor University of Turku 2014/2015, 2021/2022
  • Liebrecht, Johannes
    Professor University of Zürich 2021/2022
  • Masferrer, Aniceto
    Professor University of Valencia 2021/2022
  • Michalsen, Dag
    Professor University of Oslo (UiO) 2012/2013, 2021/2022
  • Mundal, Else
    Professor Em. University of Bergen (UiB) 2021/2022
  • Njåstad, Magne
    Professor Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) 2021/2022
  • Simpson, Andrew
    Professor University of Edinburgh 2021/2022
  • Taylor, Alice
    Professor Kings College London 2021/2022
  • Tveit, Miriam
    Associate Professor Nord University 2021/2022
  • Vogt, Helle
    Professor University of Copenhagen 2014/2015, 2017/2018, 2021/2022


Group leader

  • Erik Opsahl

    Title Professor Institution Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) Year at CAS 2021/2022
  • Jørn Øyrehagen Sunde

    Title Professor Institution University of Oslo (UiO) Year at CAS 2021/2022