Jill Diana Harries

Jill Diana Harries


  • KY16 9AL

    United Kingdom

Personal profile

Research overview

Later Roman empire, History of Roman Gaul.. History of Christianity, History of Women in Antiquity, Law, Society and culture in the Roman Republic and Empire.

Research interests

My main research interest is the relationship of Roman legal culture to wider social, political and cultural trends.  Having begun my research and publication career as a Late Roman historian, with a special interest in Roman Gaul in the fifth century, in the mid 1980s I became involved in the study of late Roman imperial law. At that time a number of scholars working in the fields of both history and law were coming to appreciate the importance and the difficuities of the Theodosian Code of imperial law (promulgated in AD438) both as a source for late Roman history and as a document in its own right.  Having hosted a conference on the Theodosian Code at St Andrews in 1990, which brought together the leading experts in the field, I published with Ian Wood an edited version of the proceedings in 1993.  My thinking on how imperial law, and in particular the reactive nature of the emperors' legislative activity, impacted on Roman governance and society was published as Law and Empire in Late Antiquity in 1999.Since then I have been increasingly preoccupied with the question of how the situation in Late Antiquity evolved out of earlier legal rules and cultural conventions.   Cicero and the Jurists (2006) is an attempt to show how specialist legal writers in the Late Republic also fitted into the wider world;  the facts that they shared a rhetorical education and political ambitions with advocates (like Cicero) and non-legal specialists n general, and that many non-jurists were also interested in antiquarianism and arguments from etymology, which feature strongly in early jurisprudence, seemed to deserve some comment. For the future (see also section on Future Research), I intend to continue to analyse the place of the Roman imperial legal writers in the broader culture of the Roman Empire, with especial emphasis on the city of Rome in the first and second centuries AD.  Viewed as fragmentary Latin writers (as most survive courtesy of Justinian's Digest, AD 533), the jurists can be seen to be specialist (like writers on architecture or mathematics or music) but also as functioning in their Roman context as politicians and office-holders, competitive academics, exaggerating differences betweeb rival 'schools', or imperial administrators.  Their points of contact with other Latin writers, most notably perhaps Aulus Gellius, will also deserve closer scrutiny.   In addition, in my contribution to the Edinburgh History of Ancient Rome (volume 7, The New Empire, due September 2009) I plan to revisit question of Late Roman imperial responsiveness in legislation, in particular the (alleged) Christian reforms of Constantine.

Future research

Contracted to deliver the seventh volume of the Edinburgh History of Ancient Rome, entitled The New Empire, 284-363 (Edinburgh Univ. Press, due 2009); this will contain analysis of emperors as lawmakers from Diocletian to Julian, focusing especially on the rhetoric of law as a means of legitimating imperial rule.   Also under contract to Blackwells for a Brief History of Roman Law (sometime early next decade).   The main purpose of my future research is to build on my existing publications (Law and Empire, Cicero and the Jurists) on Roman legal cultures, by analysing the legal writers of the Rman Empire in their wider literary, social and political contexts.  IN addition to the books mentioned above, among other commitments, I shall be giving papers on the impact of the Roman Republic on the ideology of law under the Roman Empire and the role of the emperor as legislator in Utrecht in November 2008, and on the legal writer Ulpian and his perspective on Roman power in Denmark in April 2009.

Academic/Professional Qualification

MA, University of Oxford; DPhil, University of Oxford; Roman Society; Royal Historical Society

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


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