Jonathan Ainslie

Thesis title: Economic Fragmentation in the Legal Sources of the Roman Empire, 165 to 312 CE.


Jonathan has been a PhD researcher attached to the Centre for Legal History at the Edinburgh Law School since September 2017. He is a recipient of the Modern Law Review scholarship for 2018-20.

Jonathan graduated from the University of Edinburgh with an LL.B. (Hons, First Class) in Law and Politics in 2016. He completed an LL.M. (Merit) at Edinburgh in Comparative and European Private Law in 2017. His LL.M. dissertation compared the protection of dignitary interests in England, Scotland and South Africa. This followed an ERASMUS course in European Legal Systems at the University of Salzburg in 2015. 

Jonathan grew up in Bridge of Earn, Perthshire. 

Responsibilities & affiliations

Jonathan is currently an elected member of the Senatus Academicus, representing University demonstrators, tutors and research staff.  He was previously a student member of the Student Discipline Committee from 2015 to 2017 and served as Convenor for the Law School at the Edinburgh University Students' Association from 2014 to 2015. 

Jonathan is the convenor of the Henry Goudy Seminar. Formerly known as the Roman Law Club, the Seminar was founded by Prof Peter Birks in the 1980s as "an informal activity of the Edinburgh Roman Law Group with the particular aim of encouraging students whose interest in law or the ancient world attracts them to the study of Roman law". The Seminar meets twice per semester. 

Jonathan currently serves as a content editor for the Edinburgh Student Law Review.

Jonathan works for the University of Edinburgh as the Warden for two halls of residence: Robertson's Close on the Cowgate and Nicolson/South College Street next to the Old College. These halls of residence have over 300 residents between them, the majority of them undergraduates. Jonathan is also the designated Conduct Investigator for these halls.

Undergraduate teaching

Jonathan designed the Reasoning Using Civilian Authority (LAWS10213) course at Honours level in August 2019 and currently delivers most of the seminars for this course.

Jonathan has been a course tutor for the Civil Law (LAWS08104) course at Ordinary level since October 2018. 

Research summary

Jonathan's main research interests are law and economics in the Ancient world, the influence of Dutch-Roman law on 17th century Scotland and European comparative private law. 

Current research interests

Jonathan's PhD thesis focuses on how the Roman legal system dealt with de-urbanisation and the economic fragmentation of the Roman Empire during the second and third centuries CE. To address these issues, Jonathan uses a variety of legal sources, including the Digest of Justinian and the surviving fragments of the Gregorian and Hermogenian Codes.

Affiliated research centres


Jonathan has participated in the following conferences:

Principle and Pragmatism in Roman Juristic Argument, Cambridge (UK), 29th-30th August 2019.

Water and Waterways Management in the Roman Empire: An Interdisciplinary Workshop Integrating Roman Law, Archeology and History, Edinburgh (UK), 18th-19th July 2019. 

Ancient Law in Context IX, Edinburgh (UK), 1st-2nd June 2018. 

Ancient Law in Context VIII, Edinburgh (UK), 2nd-3rd June 2017. 

Papers delivered

Jonathan has delivered a paper, or intends to deliver a paper, at the following conferences:

"Risk Management Strategies in the Actiones Adiecticiae Qualitatis" - XXVIth Annual Young Legal Historians' Forum, Istanbul (Turkey), 10th-13th June 2020 (abstract submitted). 

"Privacy as a Window on the Modes of Reception in Scots Law: A Comment on BC v Chief Constable of Scotland" - Legal History in Modern Practice, Aberdeen (UK), 22nd-24th May 2020 (abstract accepted). 

"Commutative Justice Under the Tetrarchy: An Analysis of Laesio Enormis and Rent Remission" -  LXXIIIth Session de la Societé Internationale Fernand de Visscher pour l’Histoire des Droits de l’Antiquité, Edinburgh (UK), 3rd-7th September 2019.

"A Tale of Three Cities? Comparing the Legal Treatment of Foreigners in Ancient Rome and Early Modern Low Countries" - XIIth Celtic Conference in Classics, Coimbra (Portugal), 26-29th June 2019. 

"Roman Citizenship and the Ius civile: the Constitutio Antoniniana in Legal, Political and Economic Context" - XXVth Annual Young Legal Historians' Forum, Brussels (Belgium), 5-7th June 2019. 

"Citizens, Honestiores and Punishment in the Late Roman Empire" - Ancient Law in Context X, Edinburgh (UK), 5-6th April 2019.