A Short History of a Bridge


The education of law has had a crucial importance for all of human world as well as for  the people of Turkey.

Even in the ancient times, when our recent government system, republic, did not exist, Anatolia, as a fertile homeland of ancient people, had a big importance for dominant powers in this matter. And according to many law historians, this bridge-country has undergone numerous judicial and governmental systems; thus, it is not very easy to express that there have been only few specific examples implemented in Anatolia and neighboring lands.

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However, let us enlighten a number of instances, and try to grasp how deep these long roots stretch into the soil.

Although the Middle-East is well-known for her turmoil and wars nowadays, its historical roots show that the first signs of civilization and arrangements of law appeared in the land where the people of Turkey currently live, which these old triumphs never could have occurred without education.

Sumer was the first civilization, which was interested in writing, and their written laws were arranged by, Babylon ruler, Hammurabi afterward. The past of these judicial Sumerian writings is dated back until 2351-2342 B.Cin which Urukagina lived. He wrote a text so as to establish justice.[1]

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Having hosted a great “initiation” of relation between knowledge and law, the Middle-East -as well as Anatolia- used to be under the influence of the Greek and Roman culture, which impacted each other as well. And as known correctly, the piece of land which is currently surrounded by borders of Turkey once was a great part of the Roman Empire (after dominance of the above-mentioned ancient civilizations), making it more open to the influence of Roman law. Due to this, it is beneficial to look a little at Roman law and education.

Before the “Twelve Tables” that are well-known for proving significant arrangements in Roman law, the knowledge of law had been related to religion and it had been known by only those who were members of “Patrici” class[2].

In its early years, education used to start within the family. Since there was no formally education institutions, parents –especially so-called “peter familias” who were head of their families and the sole owners of extended rights of disposal over their families [3]- were capable of teaching children what they knew But if the family was rich, then their children could take lessons from their educated slaves who generally consisted of Greeks. It can be thought that, as a result of this, Roman educational system had been greatly influenced by Greek study mentality.

Approximately after the last times of republican term of Rome, some sorts of primary schools, which received price, were established so as to educate children on a number of primary and essential lessons such as math and writing. For sure only successful boys, whose parents were able to pay, could study grammar in the post of these sorts of primary schools.

Specifically, “Coruncanius” was the first law scholar who explicitly started to teach law in the Empire[4]. His teachings were only explaining his idea and opinions, which solved judicial problems, to his students who assembled around him. In the Empire, people who learned law through this process were named “Juris Prudens”, which means a person who is cognizant of law[5]. Those people taught humans how they should have behaved in order not to do wrongs during judicial procedure and gave them advice[6].

In addition to this, in order to enhance their higher education, students, who were men, used to go to Greece; where they could study additional rhetoric and law as well; since it was thought that rhetoric had a very serious importance in order for educating people to make them lawyers or officials. Having been developed in Anatolia and Athens, rhetoric had maintained this importance in high Roman education before the 2nd century.

As a conclusion of all these explanations that are related to education and sovereignty of Rome; throughout her time, as an extended empire, Rome made the people of other parts, as well as people of Anatolia, adopt and use her education mentality on law and rhetoric. After Roman Empire, Byzantine maintained such educational and judicial system that can be regarded as those of successor of old Roman.

After Muslims started to extend toward the West and Constantinople, life -and education as well- on so-called Asia Minor faced a new wave of changes. Because of the existence of various shapes of education on Islamic Law[7], it is more beneficial to focus on common points rather than to do it on different sides.

The Ottoman Empire can be thought as a practitioner of Islamic rules on judicial system through the longest time (relatively). As, also,the  owner of a semi-Islamic law and governmental system, she had a big impact on the whole of people who live in the Middle-East, as well as on other Muslim and non-Muslim people who lived in places which were a few or too far from the Ottoman soils.

It can be easily presumed by anyone that, in the Ottoman Empire,  a judge (so-called Qadi) had to be well educated in law, which meant all –or at least the majority- of Islamic Science. To achieve this purpose, there were schools named “Madrasah” where higher Islamıc Law was taught through some traditional ways. They (the schools where lawyers were educated) started to be erected by state in the 14th and 15thcenturies. Those who graduated from these schools were named “Naib” and served on rural areas. (People who reached more success in these schools were appointed as “Qadis” and the most important amongst these was the Qadi of Istanbul.)[8]

In those madrasahs, where these pretty qualified lawyers were trained, students were taught most of Islamic sciences as well as the law that was implemented all over the land. Sahn-ı Seman, Sahn-ı Süleymaniye and Dar’ül-hadis were among the most famous of them.

Icazetname (as an Arabic-origin name with a Persian appendix, approximately means ‘document of permission’) was the name of a diploma that had been given to those who finished madrasah successfully.[9]

In 1869, toward last years of the Ottoman Empire, a school that played the most important role amongst the schools that aimed to provide western style education in Istanbul was established firstly. Lawyers who trained in this school were gradually appointed to the Presidencies of the Regular Courts, Law School was included in the School of Sciences (Dar’ül-Fünun) established in 1890.[10]Afterwards, in 1907, because of the fact that this school was not provide enough education in law, a decision was taken so as to establish new law schools in four important cities of the Empire, which were Salonika, Bagdad, Beirut and Konia. But these new schools would not endure after WWI.

After the establishment of republican rule and acceptance of European law, the first contemporary law university in Turkey was opened in the new capital Ankara province, in 1925. And many law faculties have been opened over the following years until now.

After all, as it can be seen, the people of Turkey live in such a land where civilization and its natural sequences, law and primitive sorts of education, had been initiated. With on-going rapid advancements and both positive and negative sides of it, our education on law is evolving toward an unclear horizon. Probably, this phrase could make us aware of how lengthy this path has been and will be: “Vita brevis est, ars longa.”[11]

[1] Av. H. Argun Bozkurt: Hukukun Öyküsü (XXXX), page:43
[2] Ord. Prof. Sadri Maksudi Arsal: Umumî Hukuk Tarihi (1948), page:297
[3] Prof. Dr. Şahin Akıncı: Roma Hukuku Dersleri (2003), Konya, page:181
[4] Digesta I, II, 2 §§ 35, 38.
[5] Ord. Prof. Sadri Maksudi Arsal: Umumî Hukuk Tarihi (1948), page:298
[6] Ord. Prof. Sadri Maksudi Arsal: Umumî Hukuk Tarihi (1948), page:300
[7] Ankara Üniversitesi, Osmanlı Tarihi Araştırma ve Uygulama Merkezi Dergisi, Dr Gülnihal Bozkurt: Review of the Ottoman Legal System (1991), Ankara, page:116
[8] Hukuk Öğretimi ve Hukukçunun Eğitimi, Uluslar Arası Toplantı, Ankara, 9-10-11 Ocak 2003, Adnan Güriz’in Konuşması, page:21
[9] Av. H. Argun Bozkurt: Hukukun Öyküsü (XXXX), page:81-82
[10] Ankara Üniversitesi, Osmanlı Tarihi Araştırma ve Uygulama Merkezi Dergisi, Dr Gülnihal Bozkurt: Review of the Ottoman Legal System (1991), Ankara, page:124
[11] “Our life is short and full of calamities, and learning is a long time in getting.” By Doderidge, Glanville Williams: Learning The Law (1946), London, page:38

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