Handbook on Global Constitutionalism
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Handbook on Global Constitutionalism

Edited by Anthony F. Lang and Antje Wiener

This Handbook introduces scholars and students to the history, philosophy, and evidence of global constitutionalism. Contributors provide their insights from law, politics, international relations, philosophy, and history, drawing on diverse frameworks and empirical data sets. Across them all, however, is a recognition that the international order cannot be understood without an understanding of constitutional theory. The Handbook will define this field of inquiry for the next generation by bringing together some of the leading contemporary scholars.
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Chapter 2: Global constitutionalism: the ancient worlds

Jill Harries


The ancients (for example, Marcus Aurelius) conceptualized the ‘universal’ through ideas of the ‘world as a city’, ‘Constitutions’, usually unwritten, evolved over time; ideas were shared between cities through a process of borrowing and imitation. The Romans’ ‘just war’ was defined by the proper observation of a legal process, the ‘fetial law’. Leagues between ancient states provide models for cooperation and reasons for failure. Polybius’ account of the ‘democratic’ Achaean League analyses the abuse of hegemony; the Romans’ handling of alliances proved more durable. The success of legal pluralism in the multi-ethnic Roman Empire suggests that a more pluralistic model of international governance has advantages.

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