Institute of European Constitutional and Legal History

 Institute of European Constitutional and Legal History


Prof. Dr. habil. Éva Jakab, university professor
Head of the Institute


Office: H-1083 Budapest, Üllői út 82., Educational Building, Office 422.
Phone: +36 (1) 432-9000/20-200


Law is always in a continuous change and transformation. The change of the social environment has an influence upon the law; even if its outer appearance remains unchanged the practice would explain the meanings of the legal rules differently.

Therefore law is the result of a historical progress. It has its roots in the past and influences the present as well. To the completeness of the legal knowledge and the understanding of the legal institutions the knowing of legal history is of an immense importance.  To take a short glance into the legal rules is not enough, therefore the legislative process, the development of the law, the legal system’s inner lawfulness and the social conditions it is embedded has to be examined as well. Thus, Constitutional and Legal History is the science to analyze the different legal institutions in their historical aspect. This science is responsible for the research of the general legal changes and the reasoning of the tendencies of change.  It helps the effectiveness of law and its better understanding by the research of the development of legal institutions. Why were these legal institutions born, what kind of economic, social and even moral conditions led to their development? The content of the law is different from time to time and its different according to the history of state, therefore the research based on comparative approach is necessary in order to find out the effect of one legal system to the other.

Legal history is useful for political sciences, too. Politics always intends to change law, even if it also wants to preserve the acts of law. Politicians are always led by their intent to have their ideas come true and involved in legal acts.

Furthermore, Constitutional and Legal History –as part of cultural history – is responsible to present obsolete legal institutions that don’t exist nowadays (e.g.  Witchcraft trials, ordeals, torture, serfs, privileges, law of the firstborn etc.) but make an organic part of our historical past. Hungarian legal culture is incomplete without these legal institutions and the real knowledge of law can be complete only by the knowing of these institutions.

Legal History conducts researches in two directions:

It analyses the ideas, content and development of legal acts on the one hand, but it also has to research how these legislative acts influenced society, judicial practice, public administration, politics and morality on the other hand, too. The latter gives a real answer to the effectiveness of legislation.

The most important mission of the Institute of Constitutional and Legal History is to familiarize the future functionaries of the state and public administration with the achievements of the historical constitution and to strengthen their national identity.