RS 29

legal history•introduction • matthew dyson them? Or do we fail realize what we have found, wholly focused as we are on the project in front of us? Many of these questions could be taken to imply that if the answer is ‘no’,we are failing, and it is our fault. Of course, many pressures prevent academics and lawyers from achieving all they would like. I suppose the question is whether we think enough about what our legal history ought to be today, in order to make it a worthwhile resource and legacy for our successors? For example, legal history in Europe is still predominantly a history of private law, but will it always be so? How will doctrinal legal history thrive in the face of other perspectives, whether sociological, economic, psychological, gender, or political? There are still key periods of legal history that attract our attention and which are defined geographically, such as the interest in the American Civil War, slavery, and, latterly, the civil rights movement. There are good reasons to be interested in those topics. There are also good reasons to be interested in other areas of study which surge up and die down even more rapidly. But how much do we consciously assess those reasons for ourselves or in dialogue with those who fund or approve our work? Is a long-term interest in private law the mark of the farsighted, or of the stubborn and unimaginative? How can we ensurefuture legal historians are found, inspired, trained, and employed? There is a common saying that history is written by the victor. My question is who will research it, reading between whatever lines have been written? Many serious scholars dedicate their lives to legal history, and their research is vital for the breadth and depth of the subject. They are the majority, be it of lecturers or of researchers. However, there are also inspirational figures whose name alone on a piece of work can be taken as a powerful indication that it will be worth spending precious time reading and thinking about it. Notable among them are the honorary doctors of the University of Lund. But who will be the Reinhard Zimmermann, 42 Who will legal historians be?