Prof. Dr. Martin Schermaier

Principal Investigator

Institute for Roman Law and Comparative Legal History
Department of Law
Adenauerallee 24–42
D-53113 Bonn
Phone: +49 228 73 3934

Martin Schermaier.jpg
© Barbara Frommann

Academic Profile

Martin Schermaier focuses on the legal framework of unfree labor in late medieval theology and jurisprudence. The setting of medieval labor law consists of the Roman law texts enshrined in the Corpus Iuris of Justinian on the one hand and feudal relations on the other. Whereas unfree labor was hardly discerned from slavery in Roman times, medieval jurisprudence highlighted the contractual nature of dependent labor. Which impulse did that have on the conception of labor itself? Additionally, late medieval theology (moved by new concepts of property and contractual relations) founded a reappraisal of labor. Did that influence the legal valuation of dependent work? In his research, Martin Schermeier uncovers the ideological and legal foundations of later discussions (16th-18th cent.) on freedom and slavery and the role of unfree labor.

2 books, 12 edited volumes, 90 published articles (in domestic and foreign journals and anthologies), 70 reviews, numerous commentaries and entries in lexicons, 62 international lectures and presentations, 30 supervised M.A. and 29 supervised Ph.D. theses, 4 supervised habilitations. 

Habilitation and Venia legendi in Roman Law, German Civil Law and History of Private Law

Doctor Iuris

Doctorate Studies in Law at the University of Salzburg, Austria

Magister Iuris

Diploma Studies in Law, Political Science and Communication Studies, University of Salzburg, Austria

since 2005
Professor for Civil and Roman Law, University of Bonn, Germany

Professor for Civil and Roman Law, University of Muenster, Germany

Associate Professor, University of Salzburg, Austria

Research Associate at the Institute of Roman Law and History, University of Salzburg, Austria

Scholarship of the Humboldt-Foundation, University of Bonn, Germany

since 2009
Member of the jury of the International Roman Prize "Gérard Boulvert"

since 2006
Member of the Graduate School "Recht als Wissenschaft" ("Law as Science")

since 2005
Member of the Comitato scientifico of the Consorzio Interuniversitario "Gérard Boulvert" (Roma/Napoli)

Participation in the Historical-Critical Commentary on the German Civil Code (BGB)

since 2015 
Co-editor of the "Forum Historiae Iuris"

since 2007
Ordinary member of the "Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Künste NRW," Dusseldorf, Germany

since 2007
Co-editor of the series "Schriften zur Europäischen Rechts- und Verfassungsgeschichte"

since 2007
Member of the scientific advisory board of the journal "Index. International Survey of Roman Law"

since 2004
Member of the "Académie des Privatistes Européens," Pavia, Italy

since 2003
Co-editor of the series "Forschungen zur Neueren Privatrechtsgeschichte"

Co-editor of the "Zeitschrift der Savigny-Stiftung für Rechtsgeschichte"


Reviewer for various domestic and foreign ministries and research institutions

  • various smaller individual projects funded by
  • the German Research Foundation
  • the Gerda Henkel Foundation
  • the German Academic Exchange Service
  • 2023. "Without rights? Social Theories meet Roman Law Texts." In The Position of Roman Slaves. Social Realities and Legal Differences, edited by M. Schermaier, 1–24. Berlin/Boston.
  • 2019. "Contemporary Use of Roman Rules. Prescription and Limitation in the Usus Modernus Pandectarum." In Limitation and Prescription, edited by H. Dondorp, D. Ibbetson, and E.J.H. Schrage, 297–336. Berlin.
  • 2017. "Dominus actuum suorum. Die willenstheoretische Begründung des Eigentums und das römische Recht." In Zeitschrift der Savigny-Stiftung für Rechtsgeschichte: Romanistische Abteilung 134 (1): 1–52.
  • 2016. "Transplantationen und Irritationen, Evolutionen und Diffusionen. Über Bedingungen und Konsequenzen der Rezeption fremden Rechts." In Rezeption und Rechtskulturwandel. Europäische Rechtstraditionen in Russland und Ostasien, edited by Martin Schermaier and Werner Gephart, 1–18. Frankfurt am Main: Klostermann.
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