Paolo Astorri Wins RefoRC Book Award 2020

Posted: 13 May 2020

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The RefoRC Board is pleased to announce that the RefoRC Book Award 2020 has been won by Paolo Astorri for his book: Lutheran Theology and Contract Law in Early Modern Germany (ca. 1520-1720).

The RefoRC Book Award is presented annually for publications related to Early Modern Christianity (c. 1450-1650). The Award aims to encourage academics to present their research. The author of the selected book will receive € 1000 and a certificate.

Normally, the award ceremony takes place during the Annual RefoRC Conference on Early Modern Christianity in May. However, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be no award ceremony this year. So we asked Paolo to present himself, and his book in an interview, both in text and in a video.

Paolo, can you tell us about the book?

“I started working on it some years ago, while reading the marvellous two volumes by Harold J. Berman, Law and Revolution. I remember a passage where Berman said that no attempt has been made to draw connections between the jurisprudence of the Protestant reformers of contract law and their religious convictions. My book was inspired by these words.

What was the most striking insight you gained during your research?

The Lutherans intended the distinction between law and morality in a much stricter way than the Catholics. As a consequence, they dictated contractual principles to guide the Christians’ conscience, but with a rather limited catalogue of specific norms. On the contrary, the Catholics strove for a very detailed and pervasive regulation of all fields of law.

What is it like for you to win this award?

I feel rewarded after many years of hard work. I would like to thank Prof. Dr. Herman Selderhuis and the whole board of RefoRC. I owe special thanks to my promoter Prof. Dr. Wim Decock (KU Leuven) who worked assiduously with me, and to my co-promoter Prof. Dr. Emanuele Conte (Roma Tre University) who always supported my research. I also thank my wife, my son and my family. The list of people to thank is very long. Please be sure that I remember all of you in my heart.

Tell us a little about yourself

After many years at the KU Leuven in Belgium, Faculty of Law, Department of Roman Law and Legal History, I am now Postdoctoral Researcher at the Centre for Privacy Studies at the University of Copenhagen. I am very grateful to Prof. Dr. Mette Birkedal Bruun and to the whole PRIVACY staff for this great opportunity. Together we are changing the way work is done in the humanities.”


Congratulations to Paolo Astorri!


We also wish to thank the other authors who submitted their book for the RefoRC Book Award: Stefan Bauer, Amy Burnett, Michelle Chalpin Sanchez, Kyle J. Dieleman, Brian L. Hanson, Daniel R. Hyde, Rainer Kuhn, Mark A. Lotito, and Virginia Reinburg.


About the book

Lutheran Theology and Contract Law in Early Modern Germany (ca. 1520-1720) is the dissertation of Paolo Astorri. It is clear that the Lutheran Reformation greatly contributed to changes in theological and legal ideas – but what was the extent of its impact on the field of contract law? Historians have extensively studied the contract doctrines developed by Roman Catholic theologians and canonists; however, they have largely neglected Martin Luther, Philip Melanchthon, Johann Aepinus, Martin Chemnitz, Friedrich Balduin and many other reformers. This book focuses on those neglected voices of the Reformation, exploring their role in the history of contract law.

Published by Verlag Ferdinand Schöningh.



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