This book is the fruit of a doctoral dissertation defended at the Catholic University of Leuven (KU Leuven) in June 2018. Some years ago, I had the chance to read the two volumes of H.J. Berman’s Law and Revolution. Berman wrote his books with a passion and charisma that I had never seen before. I was fascinated by his vision of integrative jurisprudence and by his vocation to restore the memory of the religious foundations of the Western legal tradition. Berman’s words inspired my interest in the relationship between the Lutheran Reformation and contract law, which became the subject of this present work.

The realization of this work has been possible through the funding provided by the Faculty of Law at KU Leuven, by the LOEWE-Schwerpunkt ‘Außergerichtliche und gerichtliche Konfliktlösung’ at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University and at the Max Planck Institute for European Legal History (Frankfurt am Main) and by the Faculty of Law at the University of Roma Tre. I would like to express my gratitude to these institutions for their generous grants.

Because of this financial support I was able to access the collections of many inspiring libraries across Europe: the Bodleian Library at Oxford University, the library of the Max Planck Institute for European Legal History and the library of the J.W. Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main, the Staatsbibliothek in Berlin, the Biblioteca Nazionale and the Biblioteca Casanatense in Rome, the Forschungsbibliothek in Gotha, the Stadtbibliothek Stuttgart and the KU Leuven Library. I would like to thank all the librarians and curators for their precious help and collaboration. In particular, special thanks go to Mrs. Sigrid Amedick, director of the library of the Max Planck Institute in Frankfurt am Main, for the acquisition of several books necessary for this research.

On the long road of my doctorate many extraordinary people have supported me. In particular, my deepest gratitude goes to my supervisor and friend Professor Wim Decock. He has been the best supervisor I could have ever hoped for. His endless encouragement, constant guidance and true example of research have been essential for the completion of this project. I also owe an enormous debt to my co-supervisor, Professor Emanuele Conte. Since the beginning he believed in this project and directed me with his instruction. I have always admired his intellectual vigour and great willingness to help.

I am profoundly grateful to Professor Laurent Waelkens who always supported me (in every sense of the word) and to Professor John Witte Jr. who collaborated with this project with great enthusiasm. Their presence has been a precious gift and a profound source of motivation for improving my work. I also would like to thank Professor Alain Wijffels, who provided me with his wise counsels and criticisms. In addition to these professors, I am also indebted to several excellent scholars who on different occasions gave me important advice. In particular, I would like to thank Professors Peter Collin, Thomas Duve, Paolo Prodi, Mathias Schmoeckel, Michael Stolleis and Christoph Strohm.

My warmest thanks go to all my colleagues at the research unit for Roman law and legal history at the KU Leuven who in various ways have enriched my life. These include Professors Randall Lesaffer and Stephan Dusil, Doctors Paolo Angelini, Dante Fedele and Inge van Hulle, Wouter Druwé, Viktorija Jakjimovska, Sebastian Krafzik, Joost Possemiers, Katrin Vanheule, Philippine Van den Brande, Cato van Paddenburgh, Gebreyesus Yimer and Jo Alaerts.

I would also like to express my gratitude to all the members of the Max Planck Institute for European Legal History and the research unit for legal history at Roma Tre University where I had the opportunity to spend very pleasant moments. In particular, I wish to thank Professor Sara Menzinger, and Doctors Monica Chiantini, Silvia di Paolo, Stefania Gialdroni and Flavia Mancini, David Harbecke and Oscar Hernandez.

I owe very special thanks to Carrie Schumacher for the proofreading of the English text, to Professor Luk Draye for the help with the translations of the Old German texts, and to Doctor Marieke Dhont for her assistance with the Hebrew terms.

I also must thank my family and friends. I have shared with them joyful and difficult moments, and they never left me without support. This thesis is dedicated to my wife Patrizia and my son Mattia who patiently endured too many days and nights of work. My last and most precious words are for Mary, mother of Jesus Christ and to my friend Jesus Christ, who made the impossible possible. From the depths of my heart, thank you.

Paolo Astorri

Leuven, 27.12.2018