2000 Balzan Prize for Legal History since 1500
Born in 1941, director of the Max-Planck-Institut fuer europaeische Rechtsgeschichte, Stolleis (1941–2021) is not simply a major historian of German public law. His studies, considered fundamental after those of Meineche and Croce, deal with the raison d’état and the birth of the modern State (they are published in Italy by Il Mulino). His studies are also fundamental from the methodological point of view, coming under the influence of new developments in historical research and legal history. He has written a history of the law in the Nazi period, which had hitherto been neglected by German historians.
As well as being a leading authority as a historian of law, Professor Stolleis is outstanding in his knowledge of modern and contemporary history, political theory (such fundamental concepts as “sovereignty” and “raison d’ètat”), constitutional law, religion (the Reformation and the Counter-reformation), philosophy and the history of thought. His studies have favoured the rise of public law in general and, more specifically, the ius gentium, (international law) as a means of regulating transactions between States.
His moral conscience and his flair for political theory have led him to the study of law in the Nazi era. He has become a specialist in the history of German National Socialism, of its repercussions on the jurisprudence of German courts (administrative jurisprudence), of administration science, as well as of the judiciary and of the legal system of Germany at that time, which he has subjected to severe and penetrating scrutiny.
For his great learning, his wide-ranging knowledge and his profound moral and political conscience, Professor Stolleis has become prominent not only in Germany but also in the whole of Europe – from Finland to Italy – and in the United States. As well as being a jurist, he is also noted as a gifted lecturer.