Feuds and Law and Order

William Doyle

  • Conflict and Control: Law and Order in 19th-Century Italy by John Davis
    Macmillan, 308 pp, £8.95, July 1988, ISBN 0 333 28647 2
  • Feuding, Conflict and Banditry in 19th-Century Corsica by Stephen Wilson
    Cambridge, 565 pp, £45.00, September 1988, ISBN 0 521 35033 6

Ever since the 18th century it has been universally accepted that one of the main foundations of a civilised society is the rule of law. The Enlightenment taught that Nature itself worked by clear and invariable laws, and saw no reason why human society should not do the same. Much that was wrong with existing institutions could be explained in these terms, and when the French Revolutionaries set out to build a new order from its foundations, they proclaimed the rule of law as the most basic of all their guiding principles. All the nationalists of the 19th century who sought to build new states of their own did the same. It underlined the legitimacy and respectability of their aspirations.

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