Swansea lecturer wins international legal history prize
A lecturer from Swansea University’s School of Humanities has been awarded a fellowship worth €6,000 (£4,731), which recognises the international significance of her historical research.
Dr Regina Poertner (pictured) of the History Department has won the Helmut Coing Prize, which includes a four-month fellowship starting in October 2008, at the Max Planck Institute for European Legal History in Frankfurt, Germany.
The prize is awarded every three years in an open competition and commemorates the Institute’s founder, who was an internationally acclaimed scholar of European Civil Law.
Dr Poertner will use the prize to work on a substantial monograph on aristocratic privilege and Enlightened reform in eighteenth-century Britain and Europe. Her study aims to fill a major lacuna in the legal and economic history of the period and is based on extensive research in British and Central European archives.
The focus of her book will be on campaigns for the reform or abolition of entails (a mode of passing on property undivided and inalienable to named heirs and their descendants) by Scotland’s advocates and their European counterparts.
Entails on landed property in the eighteenth century were targeted by Enlightened lawyers as a ‘feudal relic’ and a major constraint on private credit and investment in commerce and agricultural improvement.
Dr Poertner’s research will show in particular how and why the Scottish advocates’ campaign for parliamentary legislation achieved limited success only with the Entail Amendment Act of 1770.
Her study will demonstrate how the elite of the landed aristocracy in Scotland and parts of Ancien Régime Europe who remained largely hostile to contemporary reform campaigns were able to withstand the forces of change, and even harness them to their cause.
Dr Poertner said: “The Institutes of the Max Planck Society are among the top-ranking research institutes worldwide, so obviously I am delighted and honored to receive this distinction.
“The fellowship at the Institute for European Legal History at Frankfurt is an excellent opportunity for trying out my ideas in an international forum of scholars working in the field of comparative legal studies.
“I believe the opportunities for cooperation that are linked to the prize are very much in line with the School of Humanities’ commitment to strengthening ties between scholars in Wales and the wider academic community.”
For more information about the History Department at Swansea University visit the website.